In a move that is likely to stun allies and enrage those who still think that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump is set to personally meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in a third country.
The summit could take place as early as next month, and is almost certain to represent a thaw in chilly relations between the two countries. While it is unknown what would be discussed in the summit, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that it is possible the two men would talk about the ongoing war in Syria, the situation in the Ukraine and other hot topics. In a pre-summit meeting, Putin has already spoken with National Security Adviser John Bolton not only about these topics but also the Iran nuclear deal, the situation in North Korea and nuclear arms control.
The removal of sanctions against Russia appears to be off the table for now. It was noticeably absent from the list of topics discussed by President Putin and John Bolton, and it isn’t listed as one of the topics for the upcoming summit. However, it’s a well-known fact that Russia is eager to have sanctions scaled back or even removed altogether, so it is not unrealistic to think that any deal with Russia that may emerge from this historic summit would include some sort of sanction reprieve even though the Trump Administration has made it clear that it believes joint sanctions on Russia should remain in place.
Just the possibility of removal of sanctions is scaring NATO members who are eager to apply even more pressure on the Russian government. Many of these members are especially worried about the possibility that President Trump could meet his Russian counterpart before attending the NATO summit. The fear is that President Trump could change his positions on certain matters, and many NATO members would feel forced to follow the United States’ lead.
Indeed, it is impossible to predict what the results of this summit would be as the president is far from conventional, often announcing policy changes and decisions on the spur of the moment via Twitter instead of putting out carefully crafted, fully politically correct statements as past presidents have done.
Naturally, mainstream media pundits are painting the US-Russia summit as a win for Putin, predicting in advance that President Trump will make major concessions to Russia. If Trump decides to ease sanctions against Russia, it is likely that the EU could follow suit. At the same time, there is also the possibility the EU may decide to ease sanction on its own; in such an instance, the move would make it possible for President Trump to likewise ease sanctions. Nonetheless, pragmatic voices in the current administration have made it clear that even major disagreements between the two countries should not stop the leaders of these countries from meeting and talking about their differences.
As U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton accurately noted, the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union met with each other throughout the Cold War, and aides from both sides did so as well. These meetings helped to increase world stability at a time when many feared a nuclear holocaust was just around the corner. Pompeo has pointed out that the summit will help both countries work together on their overlapping interests even as each nation seeks to look out for its own interests.
There is a lot that is still unknown about the upcoming Trump-Putin summit. Many of the details will be announced in the coming days while still other details won’t become common knowledge until after the two presidents have met. Even so, one thing that is clear is that meeting and discussing differences in a diplomatic setting is a win-win situation for all involved.
Sabre-rattling, threats and even sanctions have not changed Russia’s goals, policy initiatives or course of action; in fact, it has only led Russia and other countries that strongly disagree with the West on important policy matters to band together. Perhaps a calm discussion of differences can bring about meaningful change that will improve not just world stability, but also the lives of countless of people all around the world.
~ Liberty Planet