Trump-Putin Helsinki Summit: Russian Propaganda Scores Big, Trump Regrettable

Trump-Putin Helsinki Summit finished, and after so much expectations, Vladimir Putin scored a big Russian propaganda while President Trump won’t get a second chance to make a great impression after a regrettable press conference.

Trump and Putin blew past the 90 minutes they were scheduled to spend with only interpreters at their sides on Monday, just hours after the US President blamed US policy for the dismal state of relations between the two countries.

The pair had opened their long-awaited summit Monday with a wink and slouch, respectively, then talked one on one behind closed doors for two-plus hours before the American leader declared their meeting was off to a “very, very good start for everybody.”

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“We have not been getting along well for the last number of years,” Trump said after arriving at the Presidential Palace in Finland’s capital, where the leaders are meeting. “But I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship. … I really think the world wants to see us get along.”

Putin, for his part, said he and Trump have maintained regular contact through phone calls and meetings at international events but “the time has come to have a thorough discussion on various international problems and sensitive issues.” He added: “There are quite a few of them for us to pay attention to.”

Their opening one-on-one session had been scheduled to run 90 minutes. The Russians said it lasted two hours and 10 minutes. The White House wouldn’t immediately confirm the timing.

The summit, which is being closely watched around the world, was not the first time Trump and Putin have held talks. They met on the sidelines of world leader meetings in Germany and Vietnam last year. But Monday’s session was condemned in advance by members of Congress from both parties after the U.S. indictment last week of 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking Democrats in the 2016 election to help Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump denies collusion

Trump said last week that he would raise the meddling issue again with Putin, but questions have been swirling about whether Trump will sharply and publicly rebuke his Russian counterpart for the interference that prompted a special investigation probe that Trump has repeatedly labeled a “witch hunt.”

Addressing reporters before the one-on-one meeting, Putin struck a casual pose during Trump’s remarks, slouching in his chair with his legs wide and eyes low. He nodded along to some of Trump’s remarks before they were translated, showcasing his fluency in English. Trump leaned forward in his chair, his hands tented in front of him and frequently glanced over at the Russian president. At one point, he shot Putin a wink. After Trump concluded his remarks, American reporters shouted several questions about whether he would bring up election meddling during his discussions with Putin.

Trump did not respond; Putin appeared to smirk.

With that, the leaders gave a quick handshake and their private meeting in the opulent Gothic Hall was under way . Just the two of them, each with a translator.

They continued the discussion with an expanded group of aides and over lunch in a room called the Hall of Mirrors, which was once the emperor’s throne room. Then came the joint news conference.

Out on the streets, the summit attracted a grab-bag of protesters, with abortion-rights activists wearing artificially bulging bellies and Trump masks, anti-fascist protesters bearing signs with expletive-laden insults, and free traders, anti-war Ukrainians and gay rights supporters making their voices heard.

Trump: meeting was ‘a very good start’

The two leaders met at the Presidential Palace in Finland’s capital city on Monday for a bilateral talk that lasted more than two hours — longer than the 90 minutes that had originally been planned.

In his first comments after the meeting, Trump told reporters he believed the summit marked a “very good start.”

“I think it’s a good start, a very, very good start for everybody,” Trump said, speaking in the palace’s Hall of Mirrors immediately following the meeting.

Earlier Monday, Trump predicted that the two leaders would have an “extraordinary relationship.” The president said they would discuss “everything from trade, to military, to missiles, to nuclear to China.”

The summit between the two leaders — their first in a formal setting — followed a contentious week in which the president slammed NATO allies for what he has called inadequate defense spending, threatened to “kill” a trade deal with the U.K., and called the European Union a “foe.”

The series of events has prompted outcry from America’s allies, including Germany, one of America’s largest trading partners. Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas told a German newspaper group on Monday that the country “can no longer completely rely on the White House.”

Trump-Putin Helsinki Summit. The historic bilateral meeting in Helsinki, Finland, tipped the balance towards Putin while President Trump was regrettable.