Global Affairs

Trump-Putin summit: The fear factors

Overeager and underprepared US leader stirs worries of strategic giveaways at the expense of America's European allies.

ST ILLUSTRATION: MANNY FRANCISCO

LONDON • History will be made today as US President Donald Trump sits down for his first bilateral summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Under normal circumstances, such an event would be cause for satisfaction - after all, the leaders of the world's biggest nuclear powers should talk as frequently as possible, and arguably the real surprise is that it took Mr Trump no less than a year and a half to fix this meeting with his Russian counterpart.

But instead of excitement, many of the world's leaders are approaching today's US-Russia summit with trepidation, and even foreboding. For seldom before has there been a less prepared summit than today's gathering in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. And as a consequence, the opportunities for a real breakthrough in the tense relations between the two powers remain small, while the dangers of miscalculation are very high.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2018, with the headline 'Trump-Putin summit: The fear factors'. Subscribe