By: Agence France-Presse
It was a relentless chorus on the marketing campaign path for Donald Trump in his quest for the US presidency: “We’re going to have a great relationship with Putin and Russia.”
Now, weighed down by claims that Moscow helped put him in the White House, Trump is about to lastly meet his Russian counterpart in an encounter fraught with potential hazard for the struggling American chief.
The talks are due to happen late Friday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
There ought to be no scarcity of topics to focus on, together with the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, North Korea’s nuclear program and efforts to fight terrorism.
But for Trump, the primary problem will be how to enhance ties with Putin with out seemingly going delicate on a person who American intelligence companies say oversaw a large effort to affect the result of final 12 months’s US elections.
“Trump needs to be polite but firm and not too friendly,” stated Michael O’Hanlon, a Russia knowledgeable on the Brookings Institution.
“If he wants to improve US-Russia relations down the road, he needs to convey the gravity of his concerns about recent Russian behavior first. Otherwise, Putin may think he’s a pushover, and the Congress will rise in opposition to Trump’s Russia policy.”
Trump’s shock election in November was anticipated to have heralded an upturn in relations between Moscow and Washington.
But ties that had chilled below Barack Obama have turn into even frostier, with Russia’s backing for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria a selected source of friction.
Moscow was livid when the Trump administration launched a cruise missile strike towards Syrian forces in April, in retaliation for what Washington stated was a chemical weapons assault by Assad’s regime towards civilians.
Talks between senior US and Russian diplomats that had been set for final month had been cancelled by Moscow in the wake of Washington’s resolution to reinforce sanctions imposed over Russian interference in Ukraine and its occupation of Crimea.
And an FBI investigation into whether or not Trump’s marketing campaign staff colluded with Moscow in the course of the election — claims the president has dismissed as “fake news” — have additional sophisticated issues.
Trump has but to hand again two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York that had been impounded on Obama’s orders in December as proof emerged of election meddling.
But whereas the portents could not be nice, either side do seem eager to make some headway.
– ‘Constructive relationship’ –
Senior Putin aide Yuri Ushakov has stated the meeting ought to be essential for worldwide stability and it was in either side’ pursuits “to break the current impasse in bilateral relations.”
HR McMaster, Trump’s national safety advisor, stated there isn’t a particular agenda for the talks and the primary intention is to forge a “more constructive relationship” whereas additionally confronting Moscow over its “destabilizing behavior.”
The pair might discover frequent floor when discussing how to deal with the Islamic State group whose final strongholds — Mosul in Iraq and Raqa in Syria — seem to be on the snapping point.
But for the 71-year-old Trump — nonetheless an absolute novice when it comes to diplomacy — the optics of the meeting with a frontrunner who has been in energy for practically twenty years will be delicate.
Trump was embarrassed again in May when he was accused of unveiling delicate intelligence data to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a White House meeting.
For O’Hanlon, the very best that might be hoped from Friday’s meeting is a slight thaw in relations and the 2 males presumably hanging up some type of chemistry regardless of the poisonous background.
“I can’t imagine any issues they can actually make major headway on, given the poison that surrounds the relationship,” he stated.
“And so I hope that they can at least begin to develop a personal rapport that allows maybe the next conversation to get into substance on Syria, because there really isn’t that much time to waste.”