Letter From the Editors: July 3 - 9, 2017

Author: Laurence Bogoslaw

The First Trump-Putin Meeting: Alliance, Avoidance and (In)Dependence

The loudest event of this week - even louder than Fourth of July fireworks - was the long-awaited first meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, a closed session during the G-20 summit in Hamburg. Although the meeting lasted nearly two hours - twice as long as expected - Russian commentators were hesitant to call the event successful, or even conclusive.

For one thing, the question of Moscow’s role in bringing Trump to power continues to be a bone of contention. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented at a wrap-up press conference that Trump had accepted Putin’s clear statements that the Russian leadership did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election. However, Vladimir Frolov points out, "the Americans immediately dismissed this Russian interpretation of the crucial part of the discussion, and it is understandable why: It portrays Trump as a weakling doing the bidding of the Russian president.. .. This is not the message that Trump and [US Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson wanted to send to the American audience, thus further blowing up the issue."

Speaking of blowing up, Aleksei Arbatov calls attention to an issue that was almost completely absent from the Hamburg conversation: the arms race. He argues that just as during the cold war, the two superpowers are stepping up nuclear weapons funding. But there’s a new set of complications now: "Unlike the cold war period, this offensive nuclear arms race would be compounded by. .. the development of space weapons and cyber warfare.. .. In addition, the arms race would become multilateral, involving not only the US and Russia, but also China, the NATO countries, India, Pakistan, North and South Korea, Japan and other states."

In this regard, North Korea’s ICBM launch (which Kim Jong Un called a "July 4 gift" to America) surely made Washington jumpy. But ...

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