Presidents of Russia and the US will meet in Helsinki on July 16, announced in the Kremlin and in the White House. From a historical and reputational point of view, this is the right choice, says the expert.
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. November 10, 2017 (Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev / TASS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump will meet in Helsinki on July 16 to discuss prospects for the development of relations between the two countries, as well as international agenda issues, the Kremlin reported, and then confirmed in the White House.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said that the request for a meeting was received by the Finnish authorities from high-ranking officials of the two countries last week. “Finland consistently stands for dialogue in international relations,” added Niiniste.
He said that the final agenda of the meeting between Putin and Trump has not been determined yet. The President of Finland expressed the hope that the presidents will also discuss the limitation of armaments. “Even small steps to reduce tension will be in the interests of all,” he said. Nienisto said that he himself plans to hold talks with each of the presidents and touch upon the situation in the Baltic Sea region, as well as the problems of the Arctic.
“Helsinki is a very successful and symbolic place for the summit of Trump and Putin, since it was there that the issues relating to European security and the non-confrontational coexistence of the United States and Russia were decided,” said Maxim Suchkov, an expert of the Russian Council on International Affairs (INF). It was in Helsinki in 1975 that the Heads of 33 European countries, the United States and Canada signed the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The Helsinki agreements consolidated the political and territorial results of the Second World War. “Given that both in the US and Russia expectations for meaningful breakthroughs are modest, the sides will emphasize the very symbolism of the meeting – Helsinki in this respect is the best suited for the PR component of the summit,” notes Suchkov.
In 1997, that time leaders of Russia and the US met – Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton were in Helsinki.
Before the official announcement of the place of the third meeting of the presidents of Russia and the United States, two options were called in the American and European media – Vienna and Helsinki. The final agreement was reached on Wednesday, June 27, during a visit to Moscow by US National Security Adviser John Bolton. At the same time, the parties agreed to simultaneously announce the place and time of the bilateral summit on Thursday.
The meeting will begin in the afternoon, the presidents will hold a tete-a-tete conversation, then perhaps a protocol event, for example a working breakfast. A press conference is also envisaged, Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said on June 27. He also admitted that a declaration would be adopted following the results. “The fact of holding such a summit is already a serious result. We do not exclude the achievement of specific agreements and results. So many questions have accumulated. And President Trump believes that the time has come for a personal meeting, and President Putin agreed with this, “John Bolton said at a press conference following a working day in Moscow.
The main topics of the talks could be bilateral relations, Syrian settlement and disarmament, Ushakov said.
At a press conference in Moscow, Bolton also admitted that Trump’s meeting with Putin could be negatively perceived in the United States. “Trump knows that the political establishment in Washington does not support his meeting with Putin, which only makes him want to hold such a meeting even more,” said Dmitry Gorenburg, senior researcher at the Davis Harvard Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at RBC. “The best parallel is Trump’s decision to meet with Kim Jong-un, against which almost everyone in Washington spoke. However, Trump’s agenda is to take a photo before the meeting and to inform that the meeting took place and gives an opportunity to start restoring the relationship, “argues Gorenburg.
“As we saw at the meeting with the leader of North Korea, Trump has great confidence in his ability to negotiate and conclude deals with foreign leaders, especially with President Vladimir Putin, whom he admires,” the researcher in a conversation with RBC Center for Naval Analysis and the Kennan Institute Jeffrey Edmonds. “It is not clear which topics will be discussed, since President Trump has shown himself as a man who rarely prepares for such meetings. Nevertheless, it is likely that strategic stability issues will be discussed, taking into account the previous comments of the US President about the unwillingness to enter a new arms race, “Edmonds suggests. “Most likely, the questions of Syria, Ukraine, arms control will be raised.
Given Trump’s well-described inattention to detail, it is unlikely that the parties will be able to make significant progress on any of the issues, “Gorenburg concludes. So far, Putin and Trump have met twice. In July last year, at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, they held talks. At the end of last year, at the APEC summit in Vietnam, the parties could not agree on holding separate talks, but the presidents communicated several times at the summit’s events.