President Trump will finally have his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, one by one that the president has been calling for since his campaign, but which many badysts fear could lead to US bargaining. with a bad actor.
The White House says that the two leaders will discuss important issues in Russian-American relations, and Trump will try to improve the relationship that is currently at its lowest point since the Cold War.
Accusations of Russian agents for alleged piracy and electoral interference. Sanctions Diplomatic expulsions. The last years, which date back to the annexation of Crimea in Russia in 2014, have generated great tension between the United States and Russia.
Putin and Trump are also expected to also address global issues that have put the two countries in conflict, including Ukraine, Syria, arms control and North Korea.
"I'm not going to go in with great expectations, but we can get some amazing things," Trump said at a news conference on Friday with UK Prime Minister Theresa May in England.
Here is a look at the main problems.
"Fortunately, we will have a very good relationship with Russia," Trump said at Friday's press conference as he stood by May, whose country is still reeling from an attack with chemical weapons by Russian agents. in March and a possible second this month.
This is a common chorus of Trump, who has called for better relations with Russia since he was a candidate. "We are competitors, not a question of friend or enemy, he is not my enemy, and with luck, one day, maybe he is a friend," he said about Putin at NATO headquarters a week ago.
Despite their attempts to forge that friendship, Russian-American relations are harsh. Russia forced the United States to reduce its diplomatic presence in the country last summer, a belated response to the expulsions ordered by President Obama from Russian diplomats in retaliation for Moscow's interference in the 2016 elections. UU They responded by closing the Russian consulate in San Francisco and expelling more Russians.
Congress also approved broad new sanctions on Russia last summer that Trump reluctantly signed because Republicans and Democrats say the administration has not done enough to punish Russia for its electoral interference and dissuade them from acting again on the partial exams of 2018.
Trump has said he will raise the issue of electoral interference: "I will bring absolutely 'meddling'," he said on Friday. But in the past, he has questioned whether Russia, in fact, interfered in the US elections, which seems to give credence to Putin's denials. Trump told reporters last November that he believed in Putin, only for the White House to make that return statement later.
As Trump's own national intelligence director, Dan Coats, told Congress in February, Russia has not been deterred: "There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and sees the elections of mid-term of 2018 as a potential target for Russian-influenced operations. "
After the chemical attack in the United Kingdom, EE. UU He expelled more Russian diplomats and closed the Seattle consulate, with the Russians responding in kind.
While there was a working level group between Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to address these issues, he has not met in months; Shannon has left the State Department, with no plans for another person to badume this role.
At least Trump can get out of this summit by waving a flag of truce, trying to stop the downward spiral of relations and possibly improve them. But the actions of EE. UU They have overcome specific violations of international standards, including US ones, so any sanction or restoration of diplomatic relations would be considered a concession to Russia and a tacit green light for their aggression.
Nowhere is Russia's aggression more evident than in Ukraine. The Trump State Department has spent months criticizing Russia for backing, arming and leading the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, and the administration maintains that it will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Russia invaded in 2014, what leads to the United States and Europe sanctions The fighting in eastern Ukraine continues after more than four years, with more than 10,000 people dead.
While the Trump administration has been hard on Russia over Ukraine, sending lethal weapons to the Ukrainian government, extending sanctions to the Russians for their participation and supporting the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitors the war, Trump doubts expressed
He reportedly told European leaders that Crimea should be Russian because many of its inhabitants speak Russian, and when asked if he would recognize the annexation of Russia last Thursday, he pointed out that Russia would open a bridge to the Crimea, an underwater port, "substantially added billions of dollars … What will happen to Crimea from now on? I can not tell you."
Even leaving the door open to Russia's land grabs has made Europe's allies nervous, especially Eastern Europeans who might face the same threat from Russia, as it has also invaded Georgia and Moldova.
The possible recognition of Trump to Crimea could be part of a larger agreement that relates to Syria. After more than seven years of a horrific civil war, large swathes of Syria begin to appear more firmly under the command of President Bashar al-Assad, which has the support of Russian air power and the Iranian and Iranian militias, although groups supported by the United States, including the Kurds, maintain control in some parts of the country.