Disturbing Summit

Helsinki has been the scene of critical summits. World interest in their agendas has been clear and overwhelming.

The 1975 summit between Gerald Ford and Leonid Brezhnev was the “detente” summit, detente being a key word that brought calm to the planet at the height of the Cold War and the arms race.

The 1990 summit between George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev posed nothing less than the end of the East-West conflict, while the summit between Bill Clinton and the first post-Soviet president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, had to finish the complex task initially laid out by George H.W. Bush and the initiator of perestroika, which involved the transfer to Russia of the Soviet arsenal of nuclear warheads and medium-range and long-range missiles that were scattered among former Soviet states, such as Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

This time the Helsinki agenda was vague. Certainly, resolving the future role of Bashar Assad in Syria is not a minor issue. Nor are North Korea and the trade war with China. However, the central issue has been neither of these, but rather Russia’s intervention in the United States’ electoral process in order to send Donald Trump to the White House. And what the New York tycoon said upon leaving the summit meeting is so absurd it raises suspicion.

Once again, Trump denied that there had been interference from the Russian government, something that, theoretically, he should not have announced until the U.S. Department of Justice has concluded its current investigations.

Much of what Trump does is useful for Putin’s plans: disrupting the Group of Seven leading industrial nations meeting in Quebec after insisting that Russia be allowed to return to that table of economic powers; slamming partners in NATO as he did in the latest summit of the Atlantic alliance; and sabotaging the customs union that Teresa May is trying to maintain with the EU and promoting the europhobic Boris Johnson for prime minister of Great Britain are all useful moves in Putin’s geostrategic game. It is possible to suppose that the central question addressed in Helsinki under such hermetic conditions was how to disguise the true and unspeakable link between the two presidents.

That bond, as unspeakable as it is impossible to hide, sets up a strange and unprecedented double connection: one part of the connection is the relationship between the United States and Russia, and the other part is the relationship between Trump and Putin. The Russian state and Putin are the same thing. However, this is not the case with the United States and the current president.

For many Democrats, and some Republicans such as John McCain, it is not ridiculous to imagine Trump as a puppet of the Kremlin’s boss.

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