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World

What Putin Might Expect From Meeting With Trump In Helsinki

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We also wanted to get perspective on what Russia might be expecting from the Helsinki meeting, so we called analyst Dmitri Trenin of the Moscow Carnegie Center. I asked if Friday's indictment of 12 Russian intelligence operatives changes the dynamic for the Russian side.

DMITRI TRENIN: I don't think so. I believe that people had gotten wind of what was to come. And the atmospherics on the United States side, I think, have become a bit more adverse as a result of the indictment. But, on the Russian side, there's no change.

MARTIN: So what is President Putin hoping to get out of this meeting? President Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, said today that the U.S. side is not looking for deliverables. What about Mr. Putin?

TRENIN: I don't think that Mr. Putin is looking for deliverables either. I think what he is looking forward to is having a serious conversation with his American counterpart. You know, we have a confrontation between the two countries - should I say the two nuclear superpowers? - and it's a real confrontation. And the real issue that we're facing is whether we are able to manage the relationship or whether we fail at that and instead mismanage the relationship. The difference could be quite substantial.

MARTIN: There were celebrations in the Russian Duma when Donald Trump was elected, but Mr. Trump has not been able to get sanctions against Russia lifted or recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea. Well, first, can I ask, is there a hope that there might be some progress on those specific issues at this meeting?

TRENIN: No. Absolutely not. And no one is looking for that. I don't think Mr. Putin or anyone who's serious in the Russian government or even more broadly believes that the United States can accept Crimea as part of Russia or would start dismantling the sanctions package against Russia. I think people have reconciled themselves to those two issues being unresolved for decades.

MARTIN: So, to that end, is this summit with the American president important for Vladimir Putin domestically?

TRENIN: Well, it's important in a symbolic sense. We've just watched the World Cup final in the Russian capital - a truly one-of-a-kind event in Russian history. So this meeting with the American president is an extension, if you want, of that festival. And just the sight of the American president coming within a couple of hundred miles of Mr. Putin's hometown for a standalone meeting with the Russian president - that means that the policy of isolating Russia, which was the hallmark of Obama's policy toward Russia, has now been discarded by the president of the United States himself.

MARTIN: That's analyst Dmitri Trenin of the Moscow Carnegie Center.

Mr. Trenin, thank you so much for speaking with us. We very much appreciate it.

TRENIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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