I’m not opposed to an American president meeting with Putin, so long as the conditions are right and we are clear what we think we are going to accomplish. That doesn’t seem to apply here, and it’s a really bad idea for Trump to meet alone with Putin and possibly make some sort of statement that Putin interprets or misinterprets as flashing green light for further adventurism. That’s why it’s particularly important to have the professionals in the room on this.
As for Trump’s posture toward Russia, it continues to be a welter of contradictions. We’ve gone through a week where Trump was supposedly destroying the Western alliance, allegedly at Putin’s bidding, at the same time the president was forcefully advocating two policies anathema to the Kremlin: More European defense spending and opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
What would Putin prefer at the end of the day, warm words from Trump, or Nord Stream 2? Clearly, it’s Nord Stream 2.
Nord Stream 2 strikes at heart of NATO unity. The pipeline gets cheap Russian gas to Germany while bypassing smaller Eastern European nations, allowing Russia to pressure them while Germany is held harmless. No amount of preening in Berlin will cover this nakedly selfish policy.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) July 11, 2018
Anyway, I’m with Matt Continetti, who argues for what he calls “the four No’s” in dealing with Russia: “no sanctions relief; no recognition of Crimea; no withdrawal from Syria; and no more trusting in the words of Putin’s government. They are as worthless as the ruble.”