TaylorHerring / Flickr trump putin actors holding hands...
TaylorHerring / Flickr

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will be meeting at approximately 5:30 to 6:00 a.m. PDT as part of the G20 Summit, now taking place amidst violent demonstrations of smashed windows and burnt out cars in Hamburg, Germany. The Guardian has this:

The possibility that a 30 minute meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, interrupted by breaks for translation, is going to solve the Syrian, North Korean and Ukraine crises are at the lower end of zero.

Putin most wants to know Trump’s Syria strategy. Unfortunately, so do most of the Republican party. Trump’s efforts to devise a strategy have emerged looking very similar to Barack Obama’s and been sent back for a rework.

US Democrats will want to know if he raised Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Trump is reluctant to do so, and Putin is a specialist in the implausible denial. Trump’s dilemma is simple: the more he protests Russian interference, the more he delegitimises his own mandate.

The moon is full and Donald Trump may soon be seeing a side of Vladimir Putin that he will wish that he didn’t know about.  Putin has been demanding the lifting of sanctions against two alleged spy compounds which Obama ordered vacated, among other things, and the time to give Putin an answer is now. Vanity Fair:

The White House may be ignoring the “crime of the century”, but Putin, it seems, is not. For weeks, Moscow has been ratcheting up the pressure on the Trump administration to return two alleged Russian spy compounds, in Maryland and Long Island, which President Barack Obama ordered vacated at the end of last year. On Monday, Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov warned that Moscow’s patience “has its limits” in regards to the rollback of the sanctions. And while Trump has repeatedly characterized Russian meddling in the election as “a hoax” and the F.B.I. investigation into his campaign’s potential involvement a “witch hunt,” the political ramifications of returning the compounds to Russian control would be severe. In the weeks since Trump fired James Comey—a move the president reportedly told Russian officials had removed the pressure on his administration—the Justice Department investigation has widened, and the potential optics of making concessions to Putin have only worsened. “The president is boxed in,” Nicholas Burns, who served as U.S. ambassador to NATO under Bush, told The Washington Post. “If you try to curry favor, offer concessions, pull back on the pressure, he’ll take advantage. He’ll see weakness in a vacuum.”

If Trump did move to return the suspected spy compounds to Russia, as his administration has reportedly considered doing, he would almost certainly face renewed pushback on Capitol Hill. After the White House signaled in May that the properties might be on the table as a bargaining chip in Syria, the Senate passed a bill that would effectively strip Trump of his authority to roll back Obama’s sanctions without Congressional approval. And while a similar piece of legislation has met greater resistance in the House, the issue is far from resolved. Silence from Trump on the Russian interference in the election would also likely be met with criticism. “The president needs to confront Putin on the Russian intervention in our elections, and we will not accept it in any way if he just sweeps it under the rug,” Adam Schiff, the top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Bloomberg. “I’m afraid the message Putin will take away is that he doesn’t have the courage to stand up to him.”

The two compounds are just part of a package of “deliverables” which Trump asked the National Security Council to assemble for Putin. Details from The Guardian:

Donald Trump has told White House aides to come up with possible concessions to offer as bargaining chips in his planned meeting with Vladimir Putin, according to two former officials familiar with the preparations. National security council staff have been tasked with proposing “deliverables” for the first Trump-Putin encounter, including the return of two diplomatic compounds Russians were ordered to vacate by the Obama administration in response to Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election, the former officials said. It is not clear what Putin would be asked to give in return. “They have been asked for deliverables, but there is resistance to offering anything up without anything back in return,” said one former official familiar with the debate inside the White House.

“Deliverables” is a term in project management nomenclature, defined as the “products, services and results that a project produces.” As such, they are the cornerstone to project success. Every project has to produce, therefore, if you don’t have any deliverables, you don’t have a project. Hacking the DNC and swinging the election to Donald Trump could be construed as a deliverable of Project Putin, to give an example. Giving back the compounds in question to the Russians could be another example of deliverables. The fate of the compounds had not been decided as of July 3rd. More from The Guardian:

On Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry said “retaliatory measures” were being prepared for closure of the compounds, but did not describe the measures.

The Russian Kommersant newspaper has reported that the Kremlin could seize US diplomatic property in Russia or impose restrictions on an Anglo-American school there.

Evelyn Farkas, who was deputy assistant secretary of state in the defence department for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, said the closure of the Russian compounds and the expulsion of suspected spies were intended to be only the first step in the punitive measures against Moscow for its election meddling.

“If President Trump starts to undo any of those measures, including giving back the facilities in Maryland and New York then the Russian government will believe … they got away with what they did to us and believe me, they’ll try it again,” Farkas said. “Putin himself uses that phrase all the time: ‘With the eating grows the appetite’.”

Speaking of appetites, Sergey Kislyak will be retiring as Russian Ambassador and his successor is even supposed to be named at the G20 Summit, but Kislyak’s prominence in worldwide politics will only be increasing in the very near future, if Kislyak has anything to say about it.  Kislyak wants to be considered as United Nations Undersecretary-General For Counterterrorism.  Details from The Washington Post:

Russia will almost certainly claim the slot as the only member of the five permanent members of the Security Council without one of its nationals in a senior U.N. position. Jeffrey Feltman, a former senior U.S. diplomat, is undersecretary-general for political affairs; comparable jobs for peacekeeping, humanitarian affairs and economic affairs are held, respectively, by nationals from France, Britain and China. Secretary General António Guterres will decide who fills the new job, although both Russia and the United States are expected to make their views known. Kislyak has repeatedly rejected descriptions of him in the U.S. media as a spy. Asked whether U.S. intelligence considered him to be one, James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, told CNN on Sunday that “given the fact that he oversees a very aggressive intelligence operation in this country — the Russians have more intelligence operatives than any other nation that is represented in this country, still even after we got rid of 35 of them — and so to suggest that he is somehow separate or oblivious to that is a bit much.”

The Russians have always had a lot of plans with respect to the United States and with the advent of useful idiot Donald Trump they have looked forward to making great headway with those plans and developing even more.  Trump has certainly given every impression of playing right along with the Russians, as delightedly infatuated as he has always been with Vladimir Putin. It’s not a question so much of if Putin will out master mind Trump, only a question of how embarrassing it will be, and who else in American government will stop Putin because Trump can’t and won’t. The president is supposed to safeguard the country against all threats, foreign and domestic. Before Trump, and with the possible exception of Richard Nixon, the country has never before faced a situation where its greatest domestic threat is its president.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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