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Vladimir Putin; Donald Trump. Photo supplied
Helsinki

Trump and Putin meet in Helsinki to demolish ‘Russia probe’

The US president Donald Trump, is busy dismantling the global order single-handedly. In the past few weeks, Trump has confused his NATO allies, insulted the UK and called the EU - probably his closest ally - a "foe". And he has just met with the Russian president, accused of "meddling" in US affairs.

Published: July 17, 2018, 8:28 am

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    On Monday, Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks to reboot relations. Trump’s a one-on-one meeting in Helsinki with the Russian leader lasted slightly over two hours.

    “Our relationship has never been worse than it is now, however that changed as of about four hours ago,” Trump said after the summit at a news conference. “Refusing to engage will not accomplish anything,” he said.

    A few hours before the start of the summit Trump had harshly criticised Washington’s policy toward Moscow as well as the “Russia probe” for damaging bilateral relations between the two countries. Trump stood next to President Putin after the summit and publicly challenged the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Instead Trump offered an show of trust in his Russian counterpart.

    The accusations in the media of “Russian meddling” in US affairs meanwhile have continued without consequences. Western efforts to isolate Russia have failed, the Russian leader noted. “I think you see for yourself these efforts failed and they were never bound to succeed,” President Putin told Fox News in a seperate interview.

    “These are domestic political games in the United States. It is not necessary to make relations between the US hostage to this internal political struggle,” Putin said about the accusations of “Russian meddling”.

    Putin sounded positive on Monday after his encounter with Trump. “A lot of things changed for the better during today’s meeting,” he said. He all but demolished the anti-Russian Mueller probe in the US.

    During the joint US-Russian press conference, Putin suggested that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could send an official request to question people named in his indictment regarding alleged Russian involvement in US elections. Moscow is surprised that Mueller’s office has not bothered to send an official request related to the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers given that a US-Russian criminal treaty is in place.

    “With the United States, we have a treaty for assistance in criminal cases… that exists from 1991. It’s still in force and it works sufficiently today,” Putin told Fox News. “Why wouldn’t Special Counsel Mueller send us an official request within the framework of this agreement? Our investigators would be acting in accordance with this treaty. They will question each individual that American partners are suspecting of something. Why no single request was filed? Nobody sent a single formal letter, formal request. It simply surprises me.”

    Ex-CIA chief John Brennan called Trump’s meeting with Putin “treasonous”. Brennan tweeted: “Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”

    In an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor on Saturday, President Trump had called out the European Union, also one of America’s oldest allies, when asked to identify his “biggest foe globally right now”. Glor met with Trump at his golf club in Turnberry, Scotland during his UK visit, just ahead of the Helsinki meeting with Putin.

    “Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.” Trump added: “Russia is foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe. But that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive.”

    According to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump had encouraged her to “sue the EU” rather than negotiate the Brexit deal.

    It appears that attacking allies has become an essential component of the Trump Doctrine. As a senior US national-security official noted: “Permanent destabilization creates American advantage.” The president believes that his country owes nothing to anyone — especially its allies, says Jeffrey Goldberg.

    An official told Goldberg that Trump believes that keeping allies and adversaries alike perpetually off-balance necessarily benefits the United States, which is still the most powerful country on Earth.

    Goldberg suggested to the official that it might perhaps be too early to discern a definitive Trump Doctrine. But his source denied that. “There’s definitely a Trump Doctrine,” the White House official said.

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