Russia-US summit: High expectations and multiple challenges

Tuesday, 2018-07-10 12:22:31
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Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump. (Photo: CNN)
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NDO – Following the success of the summit between the United States (US) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the international public is focusing their attention on the upcoming summit between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, with expectations that the July 16 meeting will create a breakthrough in the Russia-US ties. However, there remain a lot of challenges and obstacles for both Washington and Moscow to address in order to break the deadlock in bilateral relations.

As planned, the two leaders will hold a high-level meeting on July 16 in the Finnish capital, Helsinki. Ahead of such an important event, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, stated that Moscow hoped the Trump-Putin summit would serve as a platform for a frank conversation on all the issues that trouble Russia-US relations. Meanwhile, the international public and analysts also place high expectations on the aforementioned meeting to write a new page in the US-Russia relations, while discussing and resolving many regional and international issues.

Commenting on the prospects of the forthcoming Russia-US summit, the Chinese media stated that the move would open up new opportunities for the two sides to tackle a number of important issues, particularly those related to Northeast Asia and the Middle East. As for the Northeast Asian region, including China and the US’s major partners and allies, the US-Russia relations warming up could help the US to ensure a peace process for the region. As for the Middle East, Russia-US cooperation plays a pivotal role in helping to eliminate terrorism and to stabilise the situation in Syria and Iraq. In fact, during his presidential election campaign, as well as his time in power, President Trump repeatedly stated that cooperation between Washington and Moscow could accelerate the peace process in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, both Russian and US officials delivered positive signals on the outlook of the Trump-Putin summit, saying that many important regional and international issues would be put to the table by the two leaders. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently announced that the Syrian issue is likely to be touched on during the aforementioned high-level meeting. Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency quoted Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, as saying that the upcoming Trump-Putin summit would allow progress to be attained in the areas of bilateral relations and global challenges. On the US side, President Donald Trump predicted that he would have a good meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on July 16, adding that the meeting could open “a fine relationship”. Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg, recently welcomed the US-Russia summit, while affirming the two directions of the defence and dialogue in NATO’s approach toward Russia.

Despite the high expectations and the “fine words” that the two sides said to each other ahead of the summit between their two leaders, it is still not enough to guarantee a positive outcome for the talks. The international public is still concerned about the results of the meeting, as the Russia-US relations have experienced a lot of turbulence over the past few years, with a number of disagreements yet to be resolved. The past months have witnessed the Russia-US relations fall to the lowest level since the Cold War. The US and its Western allies have imposed severe sanctions against Russia, concerning the Ukraine situation, accusing Russia of having interfered in the 2016 US elections. Then, an array of “diplomatic battles” between the two sides broke out after former Russian spy, Sergei V. Skripal, was believed to have been poisoned in the UK. In addition, there still exist profound divisions between these two powers regarding the Syrian situation and the Iran nuclear issue.

However, although the Russia-US summit may not be able to resolve all the bottlenecks in the bilateral relations, or the common issues of the international community, this will still be one of the most anticipated high-level meetings this year, because, as noted by the international media, “the world needs peace and development, not confrontation of powers.” Once the leaders with stiff foreign policy stances, such as Trump and Putin, sit together and move from “confrontation to dialogue”, this will undoubtedly open up new opportunities for peace, cooperation and development for the US and Russia in particular, and the world as a whole.