This was one of the most anticipated diplomatic meetings in recent history: on Friday, July 7, on the sidelines of the summit Big twenty in Hamburg met Donald trump, and Vladimir Putin, which lasted more than two hours. It began at 4:15 in the afternoon local time. Meanwhile, on the streets, the protesters were busy making a time-tested ritual that accompanies almost every summit, and which consists in throwing bottles at the police, which in turn also complied with the Protocol, the protesters poured from hoses. Inside the exhibition centre, which is located near the well-known red light district, judging by the television coverage, all was quiet.
The footage, taken during the meeting, trump and Putin, they sat next to each other in two white square chairs that seemed too low to be comfortable. Also at this meeting was attended by US state Secretary Rex Tillerson (Rex Tillerson), the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov and a couple of translators.
On Friday, July 7, trump was scheduled nine bilateral meetings, but all were primarily interested in his meeting with Putin. What kind of relationship will be established between the two original leaders? How will they solve the problem of Syria, where currently there are both American and Russian military? If trump can convince Putin to support him in confronting the North Korean threat? If he will raise the issue of Russian interference in American elections? Or is he going to do Putin another compliment in the way he treated the Russian press?
We all know that Putin carefully preparing for such meetings and that he is always trying to customize their messages under the identity of the interlocutor. Some White house officials, according to rumors, was so concerned that Putin may use this opportunity to achieve their goals that they insisted on the presence of her other advisers such as the adviser on national security, G. R. McMaster (H. R. McMaster) and an expert on Russian national security Council Fiona hill (Fiona Hill). In the end, none of the staff did not get to this meeting — it was not even secretaries and stenographers. (In social networks, some critics trump even jokingly wrote that, in the absence of a Counsellor and Secretary Trump will be easier to transfer to Putin the state secrets or promise him Alaska in exchange for a new hotel in Moscow.)
Shortly after the start of the meeting in the room where trump and Putin briefly invited members of the press. Trump spoke first, as usual resorting to hyperbole. “The President and Putin discussed various issues, and I think that all goes very well, he said. — We expect that in our relations there will be a lot of positive for Russia, for America, for all stakeholders.” Then trump said that for him the “great honor” to talk to Putin and Russian leader shook his hand. Putin, who was acting a little sheepishly, said that he and trump had several conversations on the phone and said, “of Course, telephone conversations are not enough… such personal meetings are necessary”. Then again, the presidents shook hands.
After the departure of the journalists the talks continued. While the world was looking forward to graduation, many wondered why this meeting lasted so long. Putin chooses his words carefully, and trump, as you know, still likes to tell everyone the details of his election victory. Perhaps that is why the meeting lasted so long. We know what trump thought about the 2016 elections, because on Friday morning he tweeted: “Here everyone is talking about why John Podesta was not passed to the server of the National Committee of the Democratic party in the FBI and the CIA. Outrageous!” To which Podesta replied, “I went to Fairmount, West Virginia, and see what our crazy President @realDonaldTrump tweets about me on the summit of the Big twenty. Pull yourself together! The Russian committed a crime when they steal my emails, to help you become President. Maybe you’ll find a way to raise this issue at the meeting with President Putin.”
Apparently, trump did not listen to the Council of the Podestà. But at a briefing for journalists following the Russian-American summit Tillerson noted that trump began by saying that “expressed the concern of the American people in connection with Russia’s intervention in the elections of 2016”. Tillerson continued, “the President repeatedly raised the issue of Russian interference in the course of the meeting with President Putin. President Putin, as before, denied such intervention”. According to Tillerson, the Russian leader asked the American side to present him with evidence of Russian intervention.
Because on Thursday, July 6, trump said that “nobody really knows” who intervened in the presidential election, he could hardly have something to counter the objections of Putin, even if he wanted to. In any case, Tillerson made it clear that the President trump was not going to enter into a confrontation with Putin, or to try to punish. “He raised this issue, and then decided that at this stage it is better to focus on how we can move forward,” said Tillerson. After that, the leaders have moved on to other topics, including Syria. According to Tillerson, they discussed a new ceasefire, which should come into force in the South-East of the country. “Between them is clearly felt positive chemical reaction… Obviously they didn’t want to argue about the past,” he said. Talks trump and Putin went so well that they continued even after first lady Melanie trump tried to interrupt them.
It is worth noting that Lavrov voiced a somewhat different view of these negotiations when he spoke to reporters. The strike is Kim (Lucian Kim), Moscow correspondent for NPR, tweeted: “Lavrov: trump mentioned that in the USA the representatives of certain circles is still fanning the subject of Russian interference in the elections, although they have no evidence.” In another tweet, Kim said: “Lavrov: trump said he had heard Putin’s statement that Russia didn’t hack elections, and that it takes them up”.
Without having access to the transcript of the meeting, which obviously does not exist, it is difficult to understand how to treat these two reports about the meeting and whether they can somehow be harmonized. However, some things seem obvious.
Putin received from this meeting what he wanted: the United States ‘ willingness to overcome the situation with the elections and to begin normalizing relations. In addition to cooperation in the establishment of ceasefire in Syria, according to Lavrov, the sides agreed to appoint new ambassadors to create a working group that will deal with issues of cybersecurity, and to open a special channel of communication to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Speaking to reporters, Putin said: “I had a very long conversation with the President of the United States. Have a lot of questions — there is Ukraine, Syria and other issues, some bilateral questions.” But he said nothing about the attempts by trump to raise the issue of Russia’s intervention.
For its part, the trump can claim that he raised the question of Russian intervention, even if he did it very superficially and solely in order to comply with all formalities. But seriously, what he received as a result of the meeting with Putin? Tillerson said nothing about concessions of Russia in the question of North Korea — the most important question, in which Moscow sided with Beijing, opposing the new UN sanctions. Meanwhile, Lavrov mentioned North Korea, calling it one of the two issues in which the parties are unable to agree. (The second question concerned the return of two Russian diplomatic complexes.) Side has openly expressed a willingness to cooperate only in Syria, but it is unclear what all this will evolve.
No doubt, trump will eventually offer their own interpretation of the content of this meeting and will share their personal experiences about Putin — the man, which previously he spoke highly. But on Friday, July 7, he was too busy to participate in the official dinner and a concert of the Hamburg Philharmonic orchestra. We’ll have to wait until the President will publish its report about the meeting on Twitter.