Russia and the United States issued identical statements Thursday morning, announcing that the upcoming Trump-Putin summit would be held on Monday, July 16, in the city of Helsinki, Finland.
Russian officials had already confirmed on Wednesday that a deal had been reached on holding a summit between President Trump and President Putin. Though the two have met twice on the sideline of international events, this will be the first direct summit with the Russian leader of Trump’s time in office.
Today’s announcements just confirmed the date and time. The statements also said that a range of national security issues important to both nations would be discussed during the meeting. They did not elaborate on what those were.
Bilateral ties are very poor at the moment, and generally easing tensions will likely be among the top priorities in the meeting. NATO military buildups in Eastern Europe will likely be a subject of Russian concern as well, and both are likely to fault the other on policies in Syria.
With allegations still swirling about Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election, President Trump has been very cautious with his diplomatic ties with Russian officials. This has meant that, despite substantial issues to be addressed, the US has much less engagement with Russia than in years past.
John Bolton, who was in Moscow negotiating this summit, says that President Trump will be raising a “full range of issues” during the summit. He downplayed the significance of the meeting, saying he didn’t view the summit as anything unusual.
Which normally it wouldn’t be. US and Russian presidents meet often. That Trump hasn’t done so formally in the last 18 months is much more unusual, however, and the political circus still swirling around the election will likely make the summit controversial, particularly for Trump’s political opponents.