A bilateral meeting between the U.S. and the Russian Presidents took place in Helsinki on July 16. Analysts are convinced that it’s not just the future of the Washington-Moscow relations but also the international security in general that depends on the meeting. Putin and Trump officially met for the first time at the G20 summit in Hamburg last year. Back then they talked for about an hour and judging by their reactions remained satisfied with the talk they had. So the Helsinki negotiations are to become the second full-fledged meeting of the Presidents.
The tête-à-tête meeting. One of the decisive factors is the fact that Trump and Putin will most likely meet behind the closed doors, in the tête-à-tête format. RFE/RL Brussels correspondent Rikard Jozwiak in a comment to Hromadske TV said: “Everyone is afraid of this meeting. It may become a new Yalta Conference where two people will divide if not Europe than possibly Ukraine. It is scary. At this meeting the leaders of Ukraine and the EU will not play any role. The only participants of this meeting are Russians who will sit at the table together with the U.S. President who is quite favorable to them. And what is the worst, Trump and Putin will speak tête-à-tête. If I were the Ukrainian President, I would not want to even think about it.”
Russia’s meddling into the U.S. elections. It’s “hard to believe” that the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin knew nothing about the meddling of Russian intelligence in the U.S. Presidential elections in 2016, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said responding to a journalist’s question on whether there are doubts if Putin knew what was going on. Bolton noted that during the meeting with Putin he had in June ahead of the actual Putin-Trump meeting, the Russian president “made it plain that he said the Russian state was not involved.”
The U.S. sanctions. Possible lifting or softening of the U.S. sanctions will be discussed. According to the law, Trump’s consent is not enough to achieve that, he might promise to Putin to initiate such a decision and introduce it to the Congress for consideration. Moreover, Putin and Trump may agree over a symbolic step to improve the bilateral relations. Following the mutual expulsion of the diplomats over the past two years, the diplomatic missions can now be restored.
NATO training in Eastern Europe. Russia’s another concern is NATO’s military training in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland and in the Baltic States. The issue has become especially topical following the NATO Summit. NATO voiced fears that after the Helsinki meeting Trump may freeze the U.S. military support to the EU member states. At the Brussels Summit the EU leaders were trying to convince him not to do it.
Nord Stream 2.Trump also promised to talk to Putin on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 which he called a catastrophe for the EU at the joint press-conference with the UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Ukrainian political prisoners. It is unknown whether the liberation of Ukrainians – Kremlin’s political prisoners will be brought up at the meeting. Following the Ukraine-EU summit the Head of the European Council Donald Tusk said he will ask the U.S. to include the issue of the Ukrainian political prisoners’ liberation into the negotiations agenda. Meanwhile, on July 13, which is the birthday of Oleg Sentsov, a Twitter-storm was held calling on Trump to raise the question in Helsinki.
No expectations for the results. At the same time, Reuters quotes John Bolton, the White House National Security Adviser, who on air at ABC said that the U.S. does not expect any “tangible results” to come from the Trump-Putin meeting. Bolton said that “the United States would not be looking for ‘deliverables’” and they suggested to the Russian side “that the meeting would be ‘unstructured,’” to which they agreed. One should also remember that the presidential power in the U.S. is not absolute, all the important decisions have to be also approved by the Congress and Senate, include the lifting of sanctions, change of the position on Crimea or the war in eastern Ukraine.