On Thursday, White House National Security Advisor Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster announced that President Trump will indeed meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a face-to-face encounter at next week’s G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. The meeting comes as Democrats struggle to keep together the Russian government/Trump campaign collusion narrative, a story that has been covered by CNN and other mainstream media outlets ad nauseam for the last few months.
With Special Counsel Robert Mueller digging for evidence, Trump’s Republican allies are hoping that the president will put up a tough front when he meets Putin next week and quell lingering, albeit unsubstantiated suspicions about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
“The meeting, the first between the two since Mr. Trump took office, will occur on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, providing a dramatic focal point for Mr. Trump’s second international trip as he faces deep skepticism on the world stage,” reportsThe New York Times, pointing to a recent poll suggesting that foreign confidence in this president is lower than the last president except in two countries: Israel and Russia.
It’s unclear what the president will talk about during his meeting with Putin, as the White House has yet to release a statement outlining the goals of such a meeting.
“There’s no specific agenda — it’s really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about,” stated McMaster.
Possible topics on the table include:
- Russia’s interference into the U.S. presidential election, including its hacking of emails belonging to U.S. persons and political institutions.
- Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea
- Russia’s military backing of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad
- Russia’s arms-selling relationship with Iran
- Potential joint US-Russia cooperation in fighting ISIS and other jihadist groups
However, Trump’s general policy stance toward Putin has been friendlier than his predecessors as he has refused to censure Russia over its colonization efforts in Ukraine and its election interference in the United States. The White House hasn’t given any indication that Trump will bring up these topics during next week’s meeting either.
Nonetheless, the meeting will be incredibly symbolic, if not consequential. Analysts and media observers will scrutinize every facial expression, non-verbal cue, and word when the two world leaders meet in Hamburg in order to determine the actual nature of their relationship.
(H/T The Daily Wire)