Trump, Putin had lots to dis­cuss at the G-20

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ap­peared in the Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette: The pot con­tin­ued to be stirred on the sub­ject of Amer­i­can re­la­tions with Rus­sia and its pres­i­dent, Vladimir Putin, by the news that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had a sec­ond “meet­ing” with him at the G-20 gath­er­ing in Ham­burg, Ger­many on July 8.

It is in­ter­est­ing that Trump chose to speak with Putin a sec­ond time as op­posed to spend­ing more time with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel or Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May. It was a bit un­usual for Trump to meet with Putin alone, with only a Rus­sian-pro­vided trans­la­tor.

But there were a num­ber of sub­jects they could have dis­cussed, in­clud­ing Ukraine. There was the an­nounce­ment from the Rus­sian-backed rebels in east­ern Ukraine that they were cre­at­ing a new state, to be called Malorossiya (Lit­tle Rus­sia), in prin­ci­ple to in­clude the area they con­trol and the rest of in­de­pen­dent Ukraine.

What­ever the out­come of that dec­la­ra­tion, it can­not be con­sid­ered to be any­thing other than a step away from a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of the now three-year-old con­flict that has claimed an es­ti­mated 10,000 lives, cost Ukraine the Crimea and in­creas­ingly di­vided Eu­rope be­tween pro-West­ern and pro-Rus­sian camps.

A sec­ond is­sue be­tween the United States and Rus­sia is the fog con­tin­u­ing to sur­round the ques­tion of the Rus­sian role in the U.S.’s 2016 elec­tions, cur­rently un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller and Con­gress.

A third un­re­solved is­sue is whether the United States will give back to Rus­sia two com­pounds closed by the ad­min­is­tra­tion of pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Also, 35 Rus­sian di­plo­mats were ex­pelled in De­cem­ber.

Some news or­ga­ni­za­tions have re­ported that Trump and Putin talked for an hour at a G-20 din­ner. The White House has said it wasn’t re­ally a meet­ing, just a “brief con­ver­sa­tion at the end of din­ner.”

Also, the White House says there was no at­tempt to hide the con­ver­sa­tion, which me­dia be­lat­edly learned about.

Re­gard­less of the de­tails, it made sense for Trump to spend ex­tra time with Putin, given the need for res­o­lu­tion of var­i­ous prob­lems and is­sues.

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