Vladimir Putin in Serbia
Credit: iStock

Maryland just announced that they’ve unwittingly allowed a Russian oligarch to gain control of important elements of their voting machinery, but the White House and Republican-controlled Congress aren’t interested. The president is currently meeting one-on-one with Vladimir Putin with no one but their translators present. They’re undoubtedly discussing a trade dreamed up in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv to give Crimea to Putin and lift the sanctions on Russia in exchange for letting Russia have the complete run of Syria if they’re willing to limit Iran’s reach and influence there.

The Syria piece is just the cherry on top for Putin as he’s coming off the high of hosting the World Cup as his poodle toured Europe on a one-man wrecking mission to undermine the governments in Berlin and London, break up the European Union, weaken NATO, and terrorize the border states back into Russian vassalage.

It doesn’t seem like anyone in a position to put a stop to this has any intention of intervening.

Russia has been busy interfering in elections and boosting far-right white nationalist parties on two continents, downing passenger jets, throwing journalists out of windows, poisoning and assassinating people in their homes on foreign soil and killing others with radiation and military grade nerve agents.

None of this was a good enough reason for five Republican senators and a Republican congresswoman not to visit Russia this past July 4th to try to mend fences in preparation for today’s meeting between Trump and Putin in Helsinki. The special counsel’s indictments of twelve Russian military intelligence officers last Friday for stealing Democratic documents and using them to sway the 2016 presidential election was not enough reason to call this meeting off.

And, yes, we should call it a meeting rather than a summit because it has nothing to offer the United States beyond, perhaps, making our allies in the Middle East happy.

President Donald Trump’s highly anticipated meeting on Monday in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin is just that — only a meeting, the U.S. ambassador to Russia said Sunday.

“It isn’t a summit. I’ve heard it called a summit. This is a meeting,” Jon Huntsman said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.

It’s supposed to be an easy meeting, too.

It would seem Trump is most looking forward to his encounter with the Russian president on July 16, rather than his one-day tour in the U.K.: “Frankly Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think. Who would think. But the U.K. certainly has a — they have a lot of things going on.”

I may put these things in stark terms, but the New York Times has finally caught on. It’s not like this isn’t being reported:

Far from criticizing Mr. Putin, Mr. Trump spent much of Sunday echoing some of his regular themes.

As Air Force One carried Mr. Trump to Helsinki for the meetings with Mr. Putin, who has cracked down on the news media and been accused of jailing reporters and having them killed, Mr. Trump lashed out at the American news media. Saying they would never give him credit for a successful summit meeting, he branded many journalists “the enemy of the people.”

“Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia, over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough — that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!” Mr. Trump said in a pair of tweets. “Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people.”

The comments appeared to be an effort to pre-empt criticism of his performance at the meeting, and coincided with attempts by members of his administration to lower expectations. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the United States ambassador to Russia, said on Sunday that the event should not even be called a summit, because the two presidents were not seeking to forge an agreement about any particular topic.

“It isn’t a summit,” Mr. Huntsman said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” hours before Mr. Trump’s Twitter post calling it just that. “This is a meeting.”

The disconnect in terminology mirrors the gulf between the president and his administration in dealing with Russia: Mr. Trump has sought a friendship with Mr. Putin, while his administration regards the Russian leader as a dangerous adversary who must be countered.

In recent days, Mr. Trump focused his fire on some of the United States’ closest allies during a swing through Europe that included attacks on NATO members during a gathering in Brussels and a slight to Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain on her own soil.

And we shouldn’t limit our discussion to how all this is affecting our European or Middle Eastern allies, because Trump went to Singapore for a “meeting” with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and for absolutely no reason and without warning decided to give the unreciprocated concession of cancelling military exercises with the South Koreans. As the Wall Street Journal subsequently reported, that idea came directly from Putin:

Around the same time, Mr. Trump had an idea about how to counter the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, which he got after speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin : If the U.S. stopped joint military exercises with the South Koreans, it could help moderate Kim Jong Un’s behavior.

Trump then announced with less than zero justification and contrary to his own intelligence agencies that he had largely solved the nuclear weapons problem on the Korean peninsula and reiterated that he wants to bring our troops home as soon as practicable.

He has telegraphed his intention to follow a similar path in the Baltics. In fact, it’s so obvious that last month our ambassador to Estonia, James D. Melville Jr., resigned his position in protest.

“We see that Trump is questioning the value of the trans-Atlantic alliance in a way that the U.S. has never done before, and this, of course, can translate to steps that could potentially be harmful for the Baltic states,” Kristi Raik, director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, told VICE News. “He doesn’t seem to care about… the Baltic states as such.”

…“We are always nervous that the U.S. could be close to changing its attitude toward our region in a security sense,” said [Andis] Kudors [the executive director of Latvia’s Center of East European Policy Studies]. “We don’t like what is happening. We don’t like when Trump is calling NATO obsolete. We don’t like seeing the weakening of these trans-Atlantic links.”

More specifically:

President Donald Trump on Thursday did not rule out curtailing military exercises in the Baltics should the issue arise during his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Perhaps we’ll talk about that,” Trump said after meeting with NATO allies in Brussels, after a reporter asked whether he would consider canceling the exercises.

In normal times, I might welcome discussion of bringing U.S. troops home from the Far and Middle East and reducing tensions between Russia and its former Soviet satellites. But not right now, not like this, and not with Russia behaving the way it is behaving on the international stage.

Every single one of these actions on Trump’s part is weighted against our allies and in favor of Russia. This cannot be an accident. Mueller has exposed how the Russians intervened in our election to get Trump elected and now Trump and Putin have arranged to meet in private.

The last time they met in private, they concocted the adoptions story to cover for the Trump Tower meeting.

This time, the results will be geopolitical and potentially catastrophic, and all I see is a bunch of people belatedly figuring out what I’ve been saying all along while no one does anything to stop it.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com