5 Things To Watch For At The Trump-Putin Summit

Despite John McCain and the neocon's best efforts to disrupt it, his advisors (and the Democrats) warnings, and the rest of the Deep State's concerted plans with the liberal media to paint Trump into a lose-lose situation, the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki is due to start within the next hour or two.

As President Trump noted in a tweet earlier, "Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough."

As The Hill notes, Trump has long wanted a closer relationship with Putin, something he believes can mend frayed ties between their two countries. But beyond his apparent affinity for Putin, many in Washington have questioned why the president is sitting down with his Russian counterpart and what he seeks to accomplish.

Here are five things to watch for when Trump and Putin meet in Helsinki:

Election interference

Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, already at the front of observers’ minds, has rocketed to the top of the agenda ahead of Monday’s summit. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Friday the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers who allegedly hacked into the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic groups. The announcement comes just days before the Helsinki summit, ramping up pressure on Trump to raise the issue with Putin. But the president has long wavered on the matter, despite the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election. Just last month, Trump tweeted that “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!”

Trump has repeatedly highlighted that denial — which Putin made during their first face-to-face meeting at last year’s group of Group of 20 summit — as a way of downplaying the issue. “President Trump is now the outlier in his own administration, seemingly,” said a former Trump transition official. The president has promised multiple times to press Putin on election interference, saying Friday he would “absolutely firmly ask the question” when they meet. Trump has expressed a belief, however, there is not much he can do to deter their activity. “I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me.’ There won’t be a Perry Mason here,” Trump said at a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

National security figures with ties to the White House hope Trump publicly warns Putin against interfering in the midterms and threatens the Russian leader with consequences.

But the worst-case scenario they fear is Trump remaining silent on the issue and raising the possibility of lifting sanctions on Moscow, something that would fuel criticism from political opponents who believe he is too close to Putin.

Democrats in Congress have called on Trump to cancel the summit entirely in response to the indictment, but there is no sign Trump is interested in doing so.

Syria

Trump has reportedly been eying a deal with Putin in Syria that is aimed at moving Iranian forces away from the border with Israel in exchange for withdrawing U.S. troops. But both U.S. and Russian officials have been reluctant to give ground on thorny issues such as troop levels or territory, and experts are not optimistic a deal will be made in Helsinki. “To me, this whole issue of expecting the Russians or hoping the Russians are going to deliver Iranian concessions in Syria is the triumph of blind hope over grim analysis,” said Robert Ford, former U.S. ambassador to Syria under former President Obama.

Under the terms of a possible deal, Russia would promise to limit Iranian presence near Syria’s border with Israel and Jordan and, in turn, the U.S. would allow Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces to take control of the area. U.S. forces have an outpost in southern Syria near the border with Jordan and Iraq known as al Tanf, which Pentagon officials have said is key to ensuring Iran does not complete the Tehran-to-Beirut land bridge it desires. But under the reported deal, U.S. forces would leave al Tanf — and eventually Syria — altogether. Experts have warned Trump not to repeat the mistakes of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, when he did not come away with an ironclad plan for denuclearization.

“If he buys a vague promise, then it looks like the Singapore summit where he gets some nice words without details from the other side of the summit table,” said Ford.

Crimea

Crimea has been at the heart of U.S.-Russia tensions since 2014. That’s when Russia annexed the peninsula off Ukraine, sparking a wave of international sanctions and other measures aimed at isolating Moscow. But Trump has repeatedly left the door open to recognizing Russia’s claim over Crimea during his meeting with Putin, even repeating Moscow’s talking point that it has a rightful claim to the territory because most residents speak Russian. The president stoked further concern this week when he again did not rule out the possibility during his press conference at the end of the tumultuous NATO summit.

“That’s an interesting question, because long before I got here President Obama allowed that to happen, that was under his watch, not my watch,” Trump said. “What will happen with Crimea from this point on? That, I can’t tell you.”

One of the post-Crimea punishments for Russia was getting booted from the then-Group of Eight world economic powers. But last month, on his way to the Group of Seven summit in Canada, Trump said that should be reversed. “Russia should be in this meeting,” he said at the time. "Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?"

The U.S. and its European allies stepped up their military posture and exercises in Eastern Europe after the Crimea annexation. But after Trump unilaterally agreed to cancel joint military exercises with South Korea during his summit with North Korea’s Kim, allies are fearful of him doing the same with Putin. Republicans in Congress are cautioning Trump against a repeat performance. “I think the president should listen to his security council and our secretary of Defense and our NATO allies on anything of substance dealing with the U.S. military posture. We’ve got to be careful, we’ve got to be strong,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently led a congressional delegation to Russia.

Arms control

Trump has said one of his top priorities for the summit is arms control, a topic that could produce a rare opportunity for the U.S. and Russia to find common ground. Arms control advocates say Trump can score an easy win with Putin by agreeing to extend the New START Treaty for another five years. The treaty, negotiated by the Obama administration, caps the U.S. and Russia’s deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550 each and comes up for renewal in 2021. “[Renewal] would ensure that we do not return to a numerical arms race,” said Thomas Countryman, former assistant secretary of State on international security and nonproliferation.

But most experts do not believe a decision on New START will come at the summit. Trump has dismissed the treaty as one of Obama’s “bad deals,” and it could take some convincing to get him on board. Republicans have argued the treaty should not be extended while Russia is in violation of a separate arms control agreement known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. That agreement, which has been credited with helping end the Cold War, bans ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The United States has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty by developing and deploying a banned missile, a charge Moscow denies.

The summit could provide an opportunity for Trump to address the INF violation directly with Putin, but experts say Russia has shown little appetite for reversing course.

Stagecraft

Even more than contentious policy issues, the visuals could be the most memorable part of the Trump-Putin summit. Trump and Putin will hold a joint press conference, which should be a spectacle in and of itself and give U.S. media a chance to rare opportunity to press the Russian leader on election meddling and other key issues. It could cause problems for Trump if he appears too friendly with Putin, especially given the timing of the meeting, just days after the hacking indictments.

But Trump’s desire to form a close bond with Putin could lead the president to give his Russian counterpart a warm reception, just like he did with Kim in Singapore. It could fuel criticism back home that Trump has a greater affinity for strongmen than he does for longtime U.S. allies.

Days before the summit, Trump was shown grimacing during a group photo with NATO partners in Brussels and rolled his eyes when he was asked during a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May about critical comments he made about the U.K. leader. Putin, a former KGB officer with a flair for the dramatic, could also have some tricks up his sleeve.

The Russian leader frequently shows up late for meetings with world leaders, even forcing Pope Francis to wait for 50 minutes before a 2015 sit-down in Vatican City. Putin even brought his pet Labrador to a 2007 meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has a well-known fear of dogs. The Russian president later said he did not mean to scare Merkel and claimed he apologized after learning she is scared of dogs.

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And in case it's not immediately obvious, as Jim Jatras recently noted, there are many reasons the bipartisan US establishment hates Trump. His heresies from neoliberal orthodoxies on immigration and trade are prominent. But top among them is his oft-stated intention to improve relations with Russia.

That’s fighting words for the Deep State and its mainstream media arm, for which demonizing Russia and its president Vladimir Putin is an obsession.

The fact that Donald Trump made his intention to get along with Moscow a priority during his 2016 campaign, both against his Republican primary rivals and Hillary Clinton (who has compared Putin to Hitler) was cause for alarm. This is because far more than even the frightening prospect that the 70-year state of war on the Korean Peninsula might end, US reconciliation with Russia would yank the rug out from under the phony justifications for spending hundreds of billions of dollars annually to counter a “threat” that ceased to exist over a quarter century ago. Absent hostility to Russia that money has no reason to keep sustaining the power, privilege, and prosperity of a horde of moochers and profiteers, both at home and abroad.

That’s why when it was reported soon after his January 2017 inauguration that Trump was seeking to open dialogue with the Kremlin and set an early summit with Putin there was a hysterical counteraction.

*  *  *

Finally, watch out for any 'hot mic' incidents, because it would very awkward if a president on the United States was caught offering himself up to a Russian leader...

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Comments

SoDamnMad SoilMyselfRotten Mon, 07/16/2018 - 06:42 Permalink

Israel just completed air attacks way up in Allepo, very far from their border, while Trump and Putin are meeting to try to keep the world super powers from going to war.  Typical cheap shot by Israel.

We attacked the suburbs in Maryland because there were people there discussing how they could boycott Israeli products which would have harmed the country thus we were justified in this attack. 

In reply to by SoilMyselfRotten

N0TME Dilluminati Mon, 07/16/2018 - 07:15 Permalink

So the Tylers still believe this tripe?:

Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, already at the front of observers’ minds, has rocketed to the top of the agenda ahead of Monday’s summit.

Crimea has been at the heart of U.S.-Russia tensions since 2014. That’s when Russia annexed the peninsula off Ukraine, ... 

In reply to by Dilluminati

BidnessMan N0TME Mon, 07/16/2018 - 07:58 Permalink

Kruschev carved off Crimea and put it in the Ukraine back in the 1950’s back when it was all the USSR and didn’t matter a whit.  It was Russia at least back to the 1850’s from the Crimean War (Charge of the Light Brigade).  

Getting hysterical about Crimea just shows how ignorant the MSM is, egged on by the MIC wanting ever more weapons spending dollars.  

In reply to by N0TME

haruspicio Mon, 07/16/2018 - 05:18 Permalink

What gets forgotten is that the US 'interfered' in the Ukraine elections to organise a coup with twin aims....1) to put the US in control of Russia's gas pipeline through Ukraine 2) to dent Russia the naval base in Crimea which was due for renewal in 2017. These twin aims have been thwarted by Putin and Russian interference in the Donbass has collapsed the Ukraine economy leaving the US running a Neo-nazi economic basket case which will certainly default on its IMF loans if Russia succeeds in building NS2 or another pipeline that bypasses Ukraine. The Ukrianians don't even have enough money to pay for all the bright shiny weapons that the US is supplying them with. Putin is run a very strong position here.

LaugherNYC haruspicio Mon, 07/16/2018 - 06:53 Permalink

Yes, Putin “is run a very strong position here,” invading sovereign nations and taking control of their assets, inviting sanctions and great costs for his own nation, or global nuclear war as the second option. It is not a strategic act of brilliance to invade nations on your borders that can not be defended by neighbors without provoking massive escalation. It is simply being an international-scale asshole and STRONGMAN, imposing your dictatorial will on people who want nothing to do with you. You create false elections, and claim you were “invited” in. Yes, Hitler “invited” Mussolini to join him in Europe. That worked out swell for all concerned.

If not for its nuclear weapons, Russia would be forced to act like an adult, respect its neighbors, and would pay a heavy price for aligning itself with wonderful folks like Kim, Bashar and the ayatollah. What a joyful group that is, eh? Why don’t you trolls go live in Damascus, Pyongyang or Tehran for a while, and see how much you love the world view with which your manly man lover is aligned? Live under the want and repression of these corrupt, hateful regimes, and tell us again what a genius Vlad is for playing in the sandbox with them.

We all love Vlad. He is one smart, corrupt motherfucker. But he is a tinpot dictator whose bullshit policies, lies and kleptomania keep his poor people living like shite, living pathetically short lives, bereft of so much the world has to offer in their failed twat of a country. American may live on debt, but Russia lives on fear. Your leader opens his mouth and the entire nation shits its pants.

In reply to by haruspicio

shovelhead haruspicio Mon, 07/16/2018 - 09:19 Permalink

"Russian interference in the Donbass"

So America can support the overthrow of an elected govt. and assist self proclaimed Neo-Nazis with money and weapons half a globe away, while Russia should watch with total disinterest, separatists who aren't fond of Nazi govt. control and want autonomy right next door get bombed into submission?

How many Russian divisions have moved into the Donbass? Or do you mean taking in refugees from the shelling and providing food and medical supplies to the area kind of 'interference' ?

Just wondering what you mean.

In reply to by haruspicio

NuYawkFrankie Mon, 07/16/2018 - 05:37 Permalink

#6 Watch Kosher Nostra Donny ("How'm I doin' Mr Adelson?") - if he so much as THINKS of trying his trademark "Handshake Pull" (perfected over many a shady NYC real-estate "deal") to throw his "oppoment" off-balance & establish dominance - end-up flat on his back - sprawled like a beached baby-beluga gasping for air on the deck - after the mother-of-all head-butts.

I would, therefore, advise a demeanour more in keeping with that of a 'sackcloth & ashes' penitent - contrite over past "mistakes" and resolved to "mend his ways" - in search of absolution, maybe even a pat on the head (who knows?), from the the REAL Godfather.

DingleBarryObummer Mon, 07/16/2018 - 06:24 Permalink

US reconciliation with Russia would yank the rug out from under the phony justifications for spending hundreds of billions of dollars annually

Yea, that capital could be used for the new Death Star.

 

DingleBarryObummer Mon, 07/16/2018 - 06:28 Permalink

Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia...

That's Trump sabotaging the meeting right from the gate, because he knows Putin is not going to budge on anything his (((bosses))) want. 

If you can't beat em', troll em'!

africoman Mon, 07/16/2018 - 06:41 Permalink

CNN slogans:

"You can kill the messenger, but you can't kill the message, Be the first to know"

“The Most Trusted Name in News” to “Holy Crap, We’re All Gonna Die.”

 

I was like ROFL.

Seriously, yesterday, ahead of Trump-Puttin Helsinki meeting,

they were advising or better say warning Trump, to tell Putin, that he can't get away with interfering 2016 election, cyberattacking our NSA every day, annexing Crimea by force and we gonna put more deadly sanction where it hearts.

 

As expected, out of the blue book of CNN here are the five big fat nothing burger topics

  1. Election interference
  2. Syria
  3. Crimea
  4. Arms control
  5. Stagecraft

 

The Buffon in chief, a messenger of Bibi, MIGA 24/7, Orange J Drumpf, gonna ask Putin to order/advice Iran get out of Syria in return the USA will defeat the remaining terrorist and they gonna allow pro Syrian gov militant take control of the border near Golan Height, hence Israhell will stop attacking Assad forces.

Blah blah, but but they knew they gonna get nothing so here is what they say:

  • Trump telling CBS on Sunday that he was going in with “low expectations.” 
  •  
  • John Bolton, the US National Security Adviser, said on ABC that the United States was not looking for “deliverables,”
  •  
  • US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman also downplayed expectations, saying the two leaders were merely going to have a “conversation” rather than a “summit.”

 

So nothing burger summit like Trump-Kim SUMMIT?

 

HilteryTrumpkin Mon, 07/16/2018 - 06:53 Permalink

1:)Trumpiods

2:)squashed tubes of KY Jelly.

3:)Poppers!

4:)Big Mac and Diet Coke as a bribe from Putin to get launch codes.

5:)Pocket Pussy replica of Ivanks snatch, Tarter sauce on the side.

Chief Joesph Mon, 07/16/2018 - 08:14 Permalink

Some of the stuff the author says to watch for, is nonsense.

1. Election interference is something American contrived.  Putin is simply going to tell Trump, Russia was not involved and he doesn't care about U.S. Elections.  Putin has his own country to worry about.  He has said this before.  It's an issue that won't amount to much in the Helsinki talks.

2. No doubt, Syria will be talked about, and maybe some agreement will be reached.  But, the U.S. has the weak hand there, and so the only thing that they will be definitively talking about is when the U.S. is expecting to depart.

3. The issue with Crimea is not going anywhere.  Crimea has been returned to Russia, and there is no way the U.S. is going to force Russia to give it up, anymore than America giving up Alaska.  The U.S. has no interest in Crimea anyway, other than to use it to antagonize Russia.

4. Arms control will certainly be discussed.  It has always been at the top of American-Russian agendas for a long time.

5. Stagecraft is what neither Trump or Putin is there for.  That is something the author dreamed up on his own.  The more serious issues are this:

A. European relationships, NATO, and Trade

B. Pulling American missiles and troops out of the Baltic countries

C. Relationships with China,

D. The dollar losing its influence and in Russian-Iranian-European trade.

E. American Sanctions against Russia

F. Hostilities and sanctions against Iran

AFKeeker Mon, 07/16/2018 - 09:49 Permalink

Notice how he didn't do the "I will pull you into my body" intimidation handshake technique he uses on literally everyone else, including our traditional allies. That certainly tells you something about the mindset he's taking towards both them and Putin.