On Monday, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for their highly anticipated conference in Helsinki, Finland.
Prior to the meeting, Trump tweeted that the relations between U.S. and Russia have never been worse, but implied that that was about to change.
“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” tweeted Trump Monday morning, a few hours before the summit with Putin.
On Monday morning, the world leaders emerged after their two-hour meeting to give a press conference about their discussion and negotiations.
Putin spoke to reporters first and called the negotiations with Trump a success and also said they were fruitful.
“The current tension and atmosphere essentially have no solid reason behind it. The cold war is a thing of the past,” said Putin. He said that both Russia and the U.S., as the world’s leading nuclear powers, “bear a special responsibility for maintaining international security.”
As expected, the topic of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was addressed at the press conference.
“The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into American internal affairs including the election process,” said Putin.
Trump said that they discussed the allegations and that Putin gave “strong and powerful” denials.
“All I can do is ask the question – my people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be but I really want to see the server but, I have confidence in both parties,” said Trump.
Trump was quick to blast Democrats, the FBI, and Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller for escalating the Russia interference debacle.
“I think the probe is a disaster for our country,” said Trump. “We ran a brilliant campaign [in 2016] and that’s why I’m president.”
The leaders pointed out that although the disagreements between the countries are “well known,” they are willing to work together on their common interests.
“If we’re going to solve many of the problems facing our world, then we’re going to have to find ways to cooperate in pursuit of shared interests,” said Putin.
One of these common interests is denuclearization.
“After today I am very sure that President Putin and Russia want very much to end that problem and they’re going to work with us and I appreciate that commitment,” said Putin.
Russia and the U.S. also plan to work together on the regulation of the international oil and gas markets.
“Neither of us is interested in the plummeting of the prices and the consumers will suffer as well,” said Putin.
Trump also mentioned that the countries would continue to work together against terrorism. The U.S. recently alerted Russia of a planned terrorist attack in Saint Peterburg. Putin personally called Trump and formally thanked him for the tip.
On the topic of Syria, both Putin and Trump are interested in assisting in a humanitarian mission. Putin has already discussed this briefly with the French President Macron.
“If we can do something to help the people of Syria to get back to some form of shelter on a humanitarian basis,” said Trump.
Trump made it clear in the press conference that both the U.S. and Russia should be held accountable for the poor relationship between the countries.
“I feel we both have made some mistakes,” said Trump, who also said the Russia probe kept the leaders apart.
But Trump said that was in the past.
The leaders plan to continue the open dialogue and this meeting was just the “first step toward a brighter future and one toward a strong dialogue and a lot of thought.”
Editor’s note: A lot was accomplished here. While no treaties were signed (none was expected to be), they have a basis for moving forward to cooperate on some intractible problems.
There has been a lot of criticism of this trip by the media and even some on the conservative side. But Trump knows “you can’t win the game unless you are in the game.” Trump needed to be civil enough to engage with Putin, because it is quite clear that Putin will not respond to the same threats and insults that he has heard for the last eight years. And he won’t respond to anyone so lilly-livered as Obama.
The bottom line is that relations and business with Russia will improve.