What to Expect from President Trump’s Meeting in Finland with Vladimir Putin

There has been a lot of speculation about a summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, seen here in November
AFP
Washington, DC

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump will hold a globally anticipated one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Here’s a preview of what to expect.

Trump gave a topical preview during Friday’s joint press conference with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May of what he and the Russian president will discuss during their highly anticipated sit-down in Helsinki at 1:20 pm local time, 6:20 am ET. The president said he plans to discuss alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, Syria, sovereignty issues with Ukraine, the Russian annexation of Crimea, parts of the Middle East, and nuclear proliferation.

During the press conference with May, Trump told reporters, “I think that would be a tremendous — that would be a tremendous achievement if we could do something on nuclear proliferation.”

The U.S. president has made clear that he believes in meeting with people and fostering good relationships with other countries. “We have a good relationship with Russia and with China and with other countries.  That’s a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump said Friday. He also touted a good relationship with the U.K. and Germany during the press conference. He continued, “…if we could develop a relationship, which is good for Russia, good for us, good for everybody — that would be great.”

Trump has also rebuked the Mueller investigation into the 2016 election multiple times in recent days. On Friday he pointed to the “rigged witch hunt” for hurting the U.S. and its relationship with Russia in the days leading up to the July 16 meeting. 

President Trump has been clear that he isn’t going “in with high expectations,” a message he conveyed to Prime Minister May Friday during their pre-press conference meeting at Chequers.

May had told the reporters in her opening statements that she told Trump in their meeting Friday morning that she welcomes his meeting with President Putin. She added, “We agreed that it is important to engage Russia from a position of strength and unity, and that we should continue to deter and counter all efforts to undermine our democracies.”

Leading up to Monday’s meeting, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Huntsman briefed reporters that the meeting between Trump and Putin was being held “to discuss U.S.-Russia relations and a range of national security issues.” Huntsman said, “The President is pursuing this meeting in the interest of America’s national security to determine whether Russia is willing to make progress in our bilateral relationship.” He continued, “The President hopes that a meeting can help reduce tensions and lead to constructive engagement that improves peace and security around the world because you can’t solve problems if you’re not talking about them.”

The Putin meeting follows Trump’s participation last week in the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, and bilateral meetings in the U.K. with Prime Minister May and Queen Elizabeth II. Trump made waves at his first NATO meeting, a breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, when he raised concerns over national security conflicts from a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Germany has made substantial payments to Russia for the Nord Stream II pipeline that has made Germany partially energy dependent on Russia. Trump also increased pressure on NATO allies to meet their previously agreed upon two percent defense spending threshold. Trump emphasized at Friday’s press conference with May that by the end of the NATO summit allies were making commitments to increase their spending more expediently.

As Trump left a respite two days at Turnberry golf resort in Scotland and headed for Finland, he tweeted that he was looking forward to the summit. He then took aim at the news media for criticism of his work as president and Democrats for resisting and obstructing, “This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country – but at some point, it will heal!” he wrote.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived in Helsinki, Finland on Sunday night. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted a photo Sunday of his arrival in Finland for the U.S.-Russia bilateral meetings:

Monday morning President Trump and the first lady will participate in an official greeting at the Mäntyniemi Residence. Trump will participate in a breakfast with President Sauli Niinistö of Finland. President Trump and first lady will later participate in an official greeting at the Presidential Palace.

Then at 1:20pm local time, 6:20am ET, President Trump and President Putin are scheduled to sit down for their highly anticipated one-on-one bilateral meeting. At 2:50pm local, 7:50am ET, the two presidents will expand their bilateral meeting for a working lunch. Come 4:50pm local, 9:50am ET, President Trump and President Putin are scheduled to participate in a joint press conference. From there the U.S. President and first lady will head back to Washington, DC.

Michelle Moons is a White House Correspondent for Breitbart News — follow on Twitter @MichelleDiana and Facebook.

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