Beijing, July 17 – The first one-on-one meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Tuesday evoked mixed reactions from global experts.
The experts, who highlighted the meeting’s positive meaning, pointed out the difficulty addressing major problems between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.
Rtd Lt.-Col. Daniel Davis, an expert at the Defence Priorities, a think tank, told Xinhua that Trump’s expectations going in to the meeting were essentially to improve relations with Russia.
Davis also said that Trump wanted to establish a rapport with Putin, and “based on the performance of both presidents at the post-summit press conference, it appears he succeeded.”
“No one wins a nuclear war, and thus Trump is taking prudent steps to increase understanding and establishing lines of communication between the two to keep the danger of future nuclear war low,” he said.
Also, Dmitry Suslov, an expert at the Moscow-based Valdai Discussion Club, said the meeting is “of great importance” given the current state of Russia-U.S. relations, which has reached a “threatening point” over the past year and a half.
“This meeting should be considered as laying the foundation for further Russia-U.S. dialogue on a number of issues,” Suslov said.
For former Indian diplomat Sheel Kant Sharma, the meeting came as a relief for his country, which was caught between the two global powers and their souring ties.
“Over the last five to six years, ever since the event in Ukraine and Crimea, suddenly Putin’s relationship with the U.S. and Europe has come into a cloud …” he said, noting that U.S. sanctions have cast a shadow on India’s planned defence purchase worth billions of dollars from Russia.
The expert hopes the meeting will help improve US-Russia relations and have a positive impact on India.
Although the summit was described by Trump as “very constructive” and by Putin as “first important step,” experts said that major discrepancies between the two sides still prevail and would remain difficult to resolve.
William Courtney, a former U.S. ambassador and now a senior fellow of RAND Corporations, noted that the two sides have not issued a joint statement concerning major contentious issues in their relationship.
“It was not apparent that significant progress was made, or even that all of these issues were addressed in detail,” he told Xinhua.
He added that perhaps the Trump administration did not want a statement with Putin that “could be vulnerable to political fire, especially in the Congress.”
In spite of a promising tone, the two leaders both acknowledged problems remain in Syria, Ukraine and Crimea, among others.
Davis, the U.S. defence expert, said that it has been difficult for the U.S. to make advancements on the Crimea issue.
“U.S. interests must come before our preferred political outcome on Ukraine and Crimea, and we gain little by pressing Russia to meet our preferences on a matter they are clearly not going to give in on,” Davis said.
Suslov from Russia said the main obstacle that will impede the improvement of Russia-U.S. relations for the coming months is the “politicization” of the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. elections.
Trump’s reconciliatory tone with Putin on the issue at their joint press conference has already sparked wide criticism among lawmakers of both parties.
Republican Senator John McCain accused Trump of “not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin.”
Another barrier to improving bilateral ties is the simple fact that Russia and the U.S. are not global allies, Suslov said. (Xinhua)