At the latest G7 Summit, President Trump shocked the international community with an outlandish proposal to re-admit Russia into the group of close allies. Mere weeks later, the White House and the Kremlin released simultaneous statements where it was announced that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin would meet on July 16th, in Helsinki, Finland.
National Security Advisor John Bolton traveled to Moscow before the announcement to hash out the final logistics. It has been reported that the Putin-Trump summit has been several months in the making.
The leaders have met before, but this will be the first diplomatic endeavor in which their discussions are strictly bilateral.
In a relatively vague press release, the White House highlighted possible points of discussion as “relations between the United States and Russia,” as well as a “range of national security issues.” One of those issues may very well include Russian interference in the 2016 election, as the November midterm elections are fast-approaching. It’s likely they will also touch on the war in Syria and international trade.
According to Reuters, “expectations for the summit are low,” due to “big diplomatic expulsions in both countries,” prompted by discourse over international incidents such as Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes, and the targeting of intelligence operatives working under U.S. allies.
The talks will take place following Trump’s attendance at a NATO summit on July 11th and 12th. Amidst concerns about shifting U.S. alliances, diplomats are concerned about President Trump’s apparent alacrity to meet with leaders garnishing poor human rights records, such as Kim Jong Un and the Philippino President Rodrigo Duterte. Much like the controversial meeting between the North Korean leader and Trump in Singapore this past month, this summit will serve as yet another test of Trump’s commitment to America’s friends. This month, the president arrived late to an assembly of allies, and left early to meet with a dictator. If he does so again, the world will be watching — and learning.