The upcoming Helsinki summit between the two characteristic world leaders would definitely bring in progress on the regional issues like in Syria, Ukraine and NATO. Facing pressure from home and US allies, the US president finalizes the meeting as an emotional president despite political correctness. As for President Putin, the meet-up would cause no loss to his country but perhaps unexpected gains as he kicks off his another 6-year presidential term.
With 12 Russian intelligence agents indicted for meddling in 2016 US election, President Trump nearly defied the whole country including his own party to shake hands with his long-admired Russian counterpart, and there is no excuse for him to make "brotherhood" gathering without specific goals in mind.
The domestic pressure would be used by Trump as a bargaining chip to ask cooperation from Russia over the interference issue, Syrian security, Ukrainian separation and others.
Partly, Trump has got what he wanted from his European allies about their financial support towards NATO. And Trump would also like to bring a little bit more fruits to his European visit. And some analysts from Europe also doubt this meeting is taken as a leverage to force European countries to concede over their NATO budget shares.
US President Donald Trump, Acting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US National Security Adviser John Bolton hold a news conference after participating in the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018. /VCG Photo
The World Cup of the soccer game has shown the world an organized, secure and high efficient Russia. Putin, as the captain of this ship, would steer another 6 years and is vehemently anticipated to make breakthrough over the escalating western sanctions which hit Russian economy heavily due to the series of frictions and discords since 2014.
Different from the Singapore summit in June, there are many specific bilateral issues which could be easily promoted by the two presidents without any premise or formidable negotiations.
Putin would expect a halt of military drills in central and eastern Europe like Trump promised to DPRK leader Kim Jong Un to reduce Russian geopolitical pressure from NATO.
The US president might ask favors from his Russian counterpart to cooperate on the election meddling investigation and endorse his innocence from the whole issue. In this way, he could shake off the hood as his foes have been attacking him on the issue and furthermore, it could win him and his party more votes for the midterm election late this year.
Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at US District Court on June 15, 2018, in Washington, DC. Manafort faces charges including conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy against the United States. /VCG Photo
This summit to some extent would put more concerns over the issue of the European regions and its neighbors. Based on the enormous pressure from American domestic hawks against Russia and EU’s fears towards Russian expansion in history and recent in Crimea, it’s impossible to make big progress through this summit not mention to the so-called Russia-US agreement which some conceive the US would carry out to put more energy against China as the second largest economy is taken as the real threat to the US.
In fear of Trump’s concessions towards Putin, European countries called for an unexpected meeting and announced Georgia’s membership of NATO before the Helsinki summit which was perceived as a wedge driven by the EU between US and Russia.
Ironically, Trump hinted at the likelihood that he would consider withdrawing from NATO without congress permission when asked at a press conference. This was thought as an explicit coerce to his NATO partners for the military budget increase.
Obviously, the covert disputes turn out to be open between the US and the old continent as the traditional alliance is undermined. Russia may have more leeway among its European neighbors and US on the other side of the Atlantic.
Besides, the pragmatic leaders at least would not disappoint the world and probably some agreements could be achieved to solve some irritating or tough problems in the meeting.
Xu Fangqing, a non-resident fellow with Center for China and Globalization, a senior editor with China News Week.