By Dr Andrew Foxall
This week started with the long-awaited meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital, Helsinki. The meeting lasted for just about four hours and achieved, if President Trump is to be believed, a great deal. In those 240 or so minutes, the relationship between the US and Russia went from being “the worst it’s been in a very long time” to “very, very good”.
While the reasons for the deterioration in the US-Russia (and West-Russia) relationship are well-known – Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine, Russia’s blatant and extensive interference in Western democratic processes, Russia’s targeting of its opponents abroad – President Trump did not have anything, critical or otherwise, to say about them in the extensive press conference that followed the meeting.
Instead, Putin repeated his now well-rehearsed lies. The war in Ukraine was an internal issue and more pressure should be put on Kyiv to agree to Russia’s terms for a peace deal. Russia does not intervene in Western countries – but if it does, then it’s only because the West has intervened in Russia. Russia does not target its opponents abroad, but it is happy to help with relevant investigations, so long as they are carried out on Russia’s terms.
The day after the meeting in Helsinki, HJS hosted a meeting in Parliament on ‘Russia’s Assassinations Abroad’ which featured Marina Litvinenko as one of three speakers. Marina is, of course, the widow of Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with Polonium-210 in 2006 in an act of “nuclear terrorism”. Litvinenko’s murder was “probably” approved by Putin, according to the findings of the public inquiry into his death, which concluded in 2016.
Here at The Henry Jackson Society, we have long drawn policy, political, and media attention to what we believe is a defining trait of Putin’s regime – its blatant disregard for human life. With your continued support, we will carry on with this work.
Dr Andrew Foxall is the Director of Research and the Director of the Russia & Eurasia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society.