President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to host their first summit on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.
Although Trump is expected to press Putin on alleged Russian meddling in U.S. election and also discuss Syria and Ukraine during their meeting, the leaders’ courtship is expected to loom over the summit.
According to officials, the president treats his Russian counterpart as a confidant. Unlike other U.S. allies, Trump also reportedly consults Putin on international policy.
“The president thinks he can be friends with Putin. I don't know why, or why he would want to be,” said former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, according to anonymous officials cited by The Washington Post.
The commander-in-chief also reportedly asked Putin how he should deal with North Korea and its supreme leader, Kim Jong Un.
“So what do you think I should do about North Korea?” Trump reportedly asked Putin in their November 2017 telephone call.
The two world leaders also reportedly commiserated over how American forces, such as “fake news” and the “deep state,” are working against them.
“It’s not us,” Putin has told Trump, according to an official. “It’s the subordinates fighting against our friendship.”
Trump’s staff has repeatedly advised him to maintain a distance with Putin. However, the president has ignored the suggestions.
Earlier this year in April, the president congratulated Putin for his re-election victory during a phone call, ignoring his staff’s warning of not doing so. During the call, he skirted the topic of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election and also declined to mention Russia’s likely involvement in the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy and his daughter, which occurred in the United Kingdom.
The incident once again proved Trump’s coziness with the Russian president as he ignored key issues and talked about a topic that would please Putin.
The president has also maintained a similar tune with North Korea’s Kim. They met at a highly anticipated summit in Singapore in June and their bond appears to getting stronger ever since.
Trump, who has belittled Kim several times, gifted the North Korean dictator an Elton John CD that included the song “Rocket Man.” Some may find it humorous, but the president actually risked diplomacy with the move.
On the other hand, the president has opted for a harsh tone towards key U.S. allies. He is known for putting his point forward and he often cuts other people to make himself heard.
The president has threatened to cut off trade with countries that he claimed treated the United States unfairly. Following the G7 summit, which Trump left abruptly, he reportedly instructed his representatives not to endorse a joint communique put out by the Group of Seven leaders.
The president’s coziness to the Russian leader and a brutal dictator and his harshness towards U.S. allies paints a picture of his priorities, which is deeply troubling and alarming.
Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Jorge Silva