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