Moscow and Washington struck a deal on Wednesday to hold a summit soon between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump, a move likely to worry some US allies and draw a fiery reaction from some of Trump’s critics at home.
Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov, speaking after Putin met US National Security Adviser John Bolton in the Kremlin, said the summit would take place in a mutually convenient third country and that several more weeks were needed to prepare for it.
Moscow and Washington will announce the time and place of the summit on Thursday. In Washington, Trump said their meeting likely would take place after a July 11-12 summit of NATO leaders he is due to attend.
Trump said that Helsinki was a possible site. Other officials said the Russians were pushing for the summit to be in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
Trump listed Syria and Ukraine among the many subjects he said they would discuss. His list did not include warnings from US intelligence officials that Russia will try to interfere in US congressional elections in November.
The two men last met in November on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam. After those talks, Trump said he believed Putin’s denials Russia had meddled in the 2016 US presidential election - remarks Trump later backed away from.
A summit could irritate US allies who want to isolate Putin, such as Britain, or who are concerned about what they see as Trump’s overly friendly attitude toward the Russian leader.
It is also likely to go down badly among critics who question Trump’s commitment to the NATO alliance and fret over his desire to rebuild relations with Moscow even as Washington tightens sanctions.
“It is entirely possible for a US–Russia summit to be constructive, but I’m very concerned that after his recent performance at the G7 in Canada, President Trump will once again clash with our closest allies at the upcoming NATO summit, only to then engage in fawning photo ops with President Putin afterwards,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons said in a statement.
Ushakov, who said the Kremlin was pleased with how Bolton’s visit had gone, said Putin and Trump were likely to talk for several hours. He spoke of a possible joint declaration on improving US-Russia relations and international security.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was likely to meet his US counterpart Mike Pompeo beforehand, he added.