US National Security Advisor John Bolton in Moscow to lay groundwork for a Trump-Putin summit

US National Security Advisor John Bolton in Moscow to lay groundwork for a Trump-Putin summit

The possible meeting could see Trump strengthen ties with Moscow as he feuds with other Western leaders.

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Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

John Bolton, Donald Trump’s top national security aide, will arrive in Russia today on the last stop of his European tour.

Bolton will meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in part to plan a summit between Trump and Vladimir Putin that is likely to be held in Vienna next month following the NATO summit in Brussels. The possible meeting could see Trump strengthen ties with Moscow as he feuds with other Western leaders.

Trump has recently pulled out of a G7 joint statement and tweeted that Germany’s governing coalition was “tenuous” due to rising crime—a claim based on dubious statistics. Mr Bolton has accused Europe of treating the US as “their bank”. Meanwhile, Trump has called for Russia’s return to the G7 and increased high-level communications, with Moscow including new meetings between top generals Joseph Dunford and Valery Gerasimov.

US-Europe divisions could widen as Trump courts Putin. However, details on the potential meeting’s goals are specious, leaving it uncertain what issues the two will discuss. Even if Trump flirts with compromising on Syria and Ukraine with Putin—which is no sure thing—the more Russia-sceptic Congress may reign the president in.

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