No friends, no enemies? Trans-Atlantic relations after Trump’s Europe trip
The future of India-Russia relations
Putin’s next act
[Trump] didn't say one word about Ukraine and he had to be briefed on this stuff. The only person to say that the United States says the annexation of Crimea wasn't legal and disagrees with Russia was the president of Russia. The overall contrast [with Trump's criticisms of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and the EU earlier in the trip] coupled with Trump's inability to say Russia had done anything to contribute to the downturn of US-Russia relations, either way it's scary. Either he forgot there's a problem or he wasn't willing. He would have had no problem listing his grievances against Germany, but against Putin, he's not capable of saying anything.
This is Putin’s fourth U.S. president and this is the summit he has dreamed of for 18 years. He finally got to present himself as this global statesman floating above petty politics and present himself and Russia as this great mediator for peace and humanitarian aid... [Putin even answered a question to Trump about Crimea, taking] the role not only of a grand statesman but even as a ventriloquist. [Trump] just nodded enthusiastically and let Putin run the show.
Trump’s closest advisers (especially national-security adviser John Bolton) can rein him in from trying to buddy-buddy stuff with Putin. Also, keep him from even hinting that Crimea annexation is O.K. and/or we’ll let bygones be bygones... What he might do is scope out whether Putin might go for extension of New Start before it expires in 2021 (but remember: all Trump knows about New Start is that it’s an Obama thing and therefore poison). The treaty is heading for the ash heap of history—which could mean that arms control is kaput... [There are no historical parallels to this summit]. It would be an insult to JFK to say that the Vienna summit with Nikita Khrushchev was anything like this. JFK committed a rookie error. Trump has a plan—if you can call it that—to reorient the U.S. to leaders that he has an affinity for and countries that he’d like ours to become... Too many people—including many who have no excuse—are not paying attention [to] the damage Trump is doing to the U.S., the West, and the liberal (there! I said it) rule-based order... or, if they are, they don’t care enough to do something [about it].
We know what Mr. Putin hopes to get out of the summit: an outcome that further weakens Western democracies while deepening the fissures in NATO, the disintegration of the “political West,” and the ongoing abnegation of America’s historic role as the leader of the Atlantic community and the liberal world order. We can surmise how Mr. Putin will pursue that overarching goal: with flattery and the siren song of a partnership between the two superpowers now led by strong champions of making their countries “great again,” while continuing his expansionist policies and cyberwar against democracy. If he succeeds, the encounter could be the low point of Western diplomacy since Munich.
The president has hobbled his own executive branch [on Russia policy], and the executive branch has hobbled its own president. It’s a three-legged race with the contestants going in opposite directions.
Déjà vu is one way of thinking about it...[NATO members] are trying to understand what [President Trump] might do, and watching how he's interacted with other authoritarians — Kim being the most prominent recent example...it's like Europe is almost powerless as they have to sit by and watch as their fates are decided by [Trump and Putin].