On his way to the G7 Summit of America’s longtime allies, Donald Trump urged that Russia be re-admitted to the group, a call that stunned experienced foreign policy hands who have learned over the years be wary of its president Vladimir Putin. Intelligence officials say the former KGB spymaster has been especially busy making mischief around the globe — including meddling in the 2016 US elections.
President Trump has wrecked Theresa May’s efforts to use the G7 summit to further isolate President Putin, by calling for Russia to rejoin the elite group https://t.co/0c4gA0bLN9
— The Times of London (@thetimes) June 9, 2018
Now it seems that the two leaders are upping the ante, and that a face-to-face meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin may be in the works.
In a speech on Saturday, Putin reached out to Trump, calling for a bilateral U.S.-Russia summit.
“Trump keeps the promises that he made in his campaign,” Putin said, according to the Washington Post, which published a transcript of the recorded message.
“One of those promises was to improve Russian-American relations. I hope that this also takes place. At any rate, we are ready for this. I believe that the ball is in America’s court,” Putin said, as Trump prepared to depart for an off-again, now on-again summit in Singapore next week with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.
CNBC reported Saturday that Vienna, Austria is being considered as a possible venue for the meeting.
It’s the latest sign of the increasingly cozy relations between the U.S. president famously derided by Hillary Clinton during a campaign debate as “Putin’s puppet.” And it comes with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible election collusion having netted at least 20 indictments or guilty pleas so far.
Trump first dangled the prospect of a summit with Putin back in March, during a phone call with the Russian leader. The Wall Street Journal reported last week on renewed efforts to lay the groundwork for a possible tête-à-tête.
The reminder from the Kremlin will do nothing to allay the worries of those who suspect that Moscow colluded with the Trump campaign to swing the 2016 presidential election in his favor. Neither will it please those who say that the administration needs to do more to punish Russia for its role in meddling in the election, and to maintain the expulsions and sanctions Russia incurred following its seizure of Crimea.
Cozier ties with Russia have come at the expense of, in part, more fraught relations with U.S. allies Canada and Europe, after Trump imposed a raft of new tariffs and pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords and the Iran nuclear agreement.