Trump and Putin meet for long awaited summit as US special counsel files new indictments

Trump and Putin meet for long awaited summit as US special counsel files new indictments

Presidents Trump and Putin will hold a summit in Helsinki today, where election meddling, Syria, Crimea, and nuclear weapons will be on the agenda.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during a break in a session of the APEC summit in Danang

Photo: Reuters

Presidents Trump and Putin will hold a summit in Helsinki today, where election meddling, Syria, Crimea, and nuclear weapons will be on the agenda.

But the summit comes only three days after 12 Russians were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for hacking the Democratic party at the 2016 US presidential election. Moscow vehemently denies the accusations but Trump’s administration officials, led by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, allege that there is a case to be answered.

The ongoing hacking saga risks deepening the rift between the two countries, which Moscow describes as “very bad”. However, Trump is seen as a “negotiating partner” and the Kremlin hopes the summit will reset relations.

While Trump said he will raise the election meddling indictments, he has already signalled that he expects Mr Putin to deny them. For his part, Trump is unlikely to push back on Putin’s denials, as it is essentially a non-issue for him—expect the president to issue a hollow condemnation in Helsinki. This will likely improve US relations with Moscow. But if Mueller unearths more evidence against the Russians, Trump is likely to come under renewed pressure to take a tougher stance.

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