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Monday, July 23, 2018

Surprise and confusion: Trump invites Putin to the White House

Por Jade

Finishing the football, Russia is rolling the World Cup in the United States, although in this case the Russians seem mere spectators of the hysteria that has generated in the country the role of Donald Trump in Helsinki. In a very Russian week, with the digestion of the appointment with Putin, the various rectifications on what was said or not in Finland and the arrest in Washington DC of Maria Butina, an alleged agent in the service of the Kremlin, Trump's intention to invite Putin to the White House this coming autumn is the last surprise that the great matrioska of frights has given us.

The news was communicated through Twitter by its spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who announced Trump's indication to his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, to invite Vladimir Putin to the White House. If this were done, it would be the first time he has accessed it since September 16, 2005, the date on which he met with George W. Bush. Example of the perpetuity of some issues, in that meeting their disagreement on how to face Iran's nuclear aspirations was clear.

His successor, Barack Obama, did not receive him in the White House in his eight years in office. What would be the second summit in a single year between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, has been received in the United States with the stupor and indignation that has prevailed in the political and media environment all this week. Dan Coats, National Director of Intelligence, learned of the invitation to Putin by a journalist who, incredulous, with laughter and sighs, had him repeat the information. The time that Putin and Trump spent alone in Helsinki, with no company other than their interpreters, has raised more questions than (the lack of) clear certainties during the already famous press release on Monday.

What did they say? What did they talk about? Was it agreed something that has not been reported? In the military establishment and in the diplomatic corps there is discomfort due to the lack of concrete details. From the Congress there are voices that ask the US interpreter, Marina Gross, to testify, something that would violate the ethical codes that the profession requires. Only Trump could give her permission. Beyond what they expressed at the press conference, nothing specific has transcended their face to face.

The Bloomberg agency assures that Putin offered to him to solve the conflict of the Ukraine by means of a referendum and that Putin would have accepted not to do it public to give time that the American president reflects on the idea. What we already know that Donald Trump has rejected, is allowing Russia to question several US citizens in exchange for the investigation carried out by special prosecutor Robert Mueller to question the twelve Russian military officers charged last week for sabotage of the 2016 elections. On Monday, Trump thought it was "an incredible offer". Earlier Thursday, the US president had mentioned that he hoped to have "a second meeting" with Putin.

"I hope for our second meeting so that we can begin to implement some of the many things discussed," Trump had noted on Twitter, despite the endless controversies generated by this week's summit. Among the issues that the two countries should continue to address, Trump mentioned the "containment of terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, Ukraine, peace in the Middle East, North Korea, and more." Trump's meeting with Putin generated a series of criticisms and denunciations by the US for supporting the Russian president when he said that his government did not intervene in the presidential elections of the United States, contrary to what was defined by Washington's intelligence and investigation agencies.

After returning from his visit to Putin in Helsinki, Trump retracted what had been said before the Russian leader and endorsed the intelligence agencies of his government to accept that Russia did undermine cybernetically the presidential elections, although without success. Trump and the White House insist on denying that, during the presidential elections of 2016, the presidential campaign of the current US president colluded with Moscow to undermine the elections against Hillary Clinton, the former presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.

Despite the controversy and criticism received even from its most vocal supporters, Trump remains in his position and affirms that he is very hard with Russia: "I have been tougher on Russia than any previous president in many many years, perhaps more than anyone, look at the sanctions I have imposed, look at the diplomats I expelled, look at all the things I have done, no one has done as much as me. Getting along with President Putin, getting along with Russia is positive, not negative, and if it does not work, I'll be the worst enemy he's ever had," Trump said. Russia has shown willingness to a second meeting with the US president.