Upcoming 2018 Russia and US Summit Details
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
The current state of the relations between Russia and the United States have been described as somewhat unsatisfactory from multiple statements by their respective leaders. Issues such as the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and suspected interference in the American 2016 presidential elections have been detrimental to the relationship between the two, and both nations have placed economic sanctions on one another. However, on June 27, 2018, the US National Security Adviser Ambassador John Bolton and Russian President Vladimir Putin met at the Kremlin to discuss details for a summit between President Donald Trump and Putin. On June 28, 2018, it was announced that the summit would be held in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. It is scheduled to be a one on one meeting between the two leaders, who would primarily discuss the improvement of US-Russia relations, as well as national security issues and the suspected meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.
While currently there have been no stated specific goals or outcomes from the summit, statements by the leaders as well as numerous officials have shed light on the general topics being discussed. One topic that both parties agreed to discuss beforehand is the improvement of US-Russia relations, which both agree have been slowly deteriorating over time. Other topics of discussion that could possibly arise are Russia’s involvement in Syria, its partnership with Iran, its military intervention in Ukraine, the renewal of nuclear arms control treaties, the dissolution of economic sanctions, and the suspected meddling of the 2016 US presidential elections.
The United States has shown interest in convincing Russia to sever its ties with Iran, which supports the Syrian government in the Syrian Civil War. A statement by President Trump showed US interest in withdrawing its current forces from Syria, which numbers to 2000 personnel. According to an Arab official, Russia wishes for the US to give up its base of operations in al Tanf, a strategic location in Syria that some suspect blocks supply lines between Iran and the Hezbollah in Lebanon. The nations would also discuss the renewal of nuclear arms control treaties, such as the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which is nearing its expiration. Both leaders showed interest in renewing the treaty. The suspected meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections would also be potentially discussed. However, the Russian government continues to deny its involvement in the elections, and President Trump agreed with Russia’s non-involvement of the elections through a statement on Twitter. The topic of Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula remain highly controversial, however. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov has stated that while Putin would discuss all other issues, the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula would specifically not be on the agenda of the summit.
Many US allies expressed concern over the summit, citing wariness over the perceived excessively friendly relationship between President Trump and Putin. President Trump has expressed interest in adding Russia back into the Group of Seven, the countries with the seven greatest economies in the world, as Russia was suspended from the original Group of Eight due to the annexation of Crimea. This has also received concern from US allies.