Friday 21 July 2017

Trump's meeting with Putin was a surreal love-fest with no point

US President Donald Trump offers a handshake to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit. Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump offers a handshake to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit. Photo: AP

Anne Applebaum

There were six people in the room when the president of the United States met the president of Russia: two presidents, two foreign ministers, two translators - with no aides, no advisers, no experts.

There was nothing prepared in advance: the US national security adviser, HR McMaster, said last week that there was "no specific agenda - it's really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about".

A nearly empty room. A blank slate. The Russian-American relationship, which has always been atypical, has now become strange, even surreal. It is not even predictable, in the way that most diplomatic relationships are more or less predictable, because it is not driven by the geopolitical or economic interests of either Russians or Americans. It is driven, rather, by the personal interests of the two players.

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