The Russian reaction to the recent Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki was very different from that of the Western media, which is continuing to promote the corrupt narrative of failure to bring down President Trump’s administration. Besides granting a short=term public relations boost to the Russian president for the domestic audience, experts doubt any long-term benefits.
“The meeting allowed Putin to demonstrate to the world that despite being isolated on the international stage, he is a prominent and important leader,” Dmitry Nekrasov, an economist and opposition politician, told The Moscow Times. “He was also able to show the Russian elite that he has retained his status.”
As well as sending a message to the world, however, Putin’s performance was also targeting a domestic audience, said political analyst Abbas Gallyamov.
The government introduced an unpopular proposal in June to raise the retirement age, leading to ongoing and widespread protests across the country. “After the failures of the pension reform,” Gallyamov said, “Putin had to remind voters of his geopolitical effectiveness.”
“It’s hard to say whether anything positive will come from this,” international relations expert Fyodor Lukyanov told The Moscow Times. “It depends on whether they will actually work on any of the issues they discussed.”
There is little doubt, however, that the summit was a “short-term PR victory for Moscow,” said political analyst Vladimir Frolov, wrote The Moscow Times. “The United States seems to have acknowledged the need to unfreeze the relationship despite zero change in Russian posture on Ukraine,” he added.
Nevertheless, the long-term benefits are less clear: The summit did not produce a joint statement or, as was the case after Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un, a cooperation agreement.
“There was no signed document, not even one with little substance,” Nekrasov concluded. “Which is ultimately what the summit amounted to: little substance.”
In other news, President Trump tweeted that at the summit, Russia agreed to help foster better relations with North Korea.
….Russia has agreed to help with North Korea, where relationships with us are very good and the process is moving along. There is no rush, the sanctions remain! Big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2018
In Tsarizm’s estimation, Trump’s motivation for meeting Putin was to secure Russia’s help in dealing with North Korea, and Iran, where the Kremlin retains influence.