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As Trump says Putin ‘not my enemy’, skeptics in U.S. see danger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In getting ready for his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump has provoked a uncommon settlement amongst Democrats and Republicans alarmed by the opportunity of a comfy assembly.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin speak through the household picture session on the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo

While Republican Trump has gone softer on Putin, calling him a “competitor” and “not my enemy” on Thursday, lawmakers from each events hardened their warnings to Trump earlier than he sits down with the Russian chief in Helsinki on Monday.

“Putin is not America’s friend, nor merely a competitor. Putin is America’s enemy — not because we wish it so, but because he has chosen to be,” Republican Senator John McCain stated.

“It is up to President Trump to hold Putin accountable for his actions during the meeting in Helsinki,” McCain stated in a press release. “Failure to do so would be a serious indictment of his stewardship of American leadership in the world.”

Trump has touted the summit as a possibility to scale back tensions, infected by Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, its navy backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which turned the tide of the Syrian civil battle in 2015, and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

U.S. lawmakers need Trump, each privately with Putin and publicly, to sentence Russia’s actions.

FILE PHOTO: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speaks at a press convention in regards to the National Defense Authorization Act in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Congress has taken a tough anti-Russia stance, almost unanimously approving final 12 months a troublesome sanctions legislation concentrating on Moscow. But lawmakers fear Trump will fail to take Putin to process, notably over the election meddling, which the Russian chief has denied.

U.S. intelligence businesses concluded that Moscow interfered and Trump has stated he would focus on it, though he has said each a willingness to consider Putin’s denials and U.S. businesses. Trump has described a particular counsel investigation into doable collusion between Trump marketing campaign aides and Russia as a political witch hunt.

“Our goal must be to demonstrate to the world that the community of democratic nations does not intend to accede to Putin’s or any other authoritarian’s view of the world. We will resist Russia’s aggression,” Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican Senator Marco Rubio stated in an op-ed in USA Today on Thursday.

Senior Trump administration officers even have voiced fears about what he would possibly give Putin to the detriment of allies in Europe, particularly after seeing how Trump appeared to get solely obscure commitments from North Korean chief Kim Jong Un at their June 12 summit in Singapore to debate denuclearization.

Trump declared that he had ended the nuclear risk from North Korea, however one senior U.S. official, talking on the situation of anonymity, stated: “Who’s to say he won’t come out of Helsinki saying he and Putin agreed that Russia no longer poses a threat to the rest of Europe?”


Worries over Trump’s dedication to European allies and his deference to Russia loomed massive on the NATO summit that wrapped up on Thursday. Trump claimed a private victory after telling European allies to extend their protection spending or lose Washington’s help. He notably railed in opposition to Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Trump took one other swipe at U.S. allies when he informed reporters in Brussels that he thought his assembly with Putin can be “the easiest” a part of his week-long European journey.

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican, criticized Trump for saying that.

“The Russian president is a man schooled in treachery and espionage. He jails and murders his opponents, presides over a mafia state and he is an enemy of democracy. Why would a meeting with Putin be easier than a meeting with the allies that we rely on most to be a bulwark against him?” Flake requested in a Senate speech.

Putin gained re-election for six extra years in March with opposition chief Alexei Navalny barred from operating on what he says was a false pretext.

Europeans and a few U.S. officers are notably involved about whether or not Putin will ask Trump to droop NATO navy drills in the Baltic states on Russia’s doorstep.

Another senior U.S. official stated that if Putin got here away from the assembly with Trump considering he had permission to behave in the Baltics, Estonia would possibly grow to be the epicenter of what NATO has helped to stop.

Trump’s assertion that Russia is a competitor and never an adversary is opposite to the judgments of U.S. intelligence businesses and his chief diplomat, Mike Pompeo, who at his April affirmation listening to to be Secretary of State, stated the United States wants “to push back in each place we confront them,” referring to the Russians.

While Trump stated on Thursday that he expects the Helsinki summit to be “just a loose meeting,” some at dwelling are hoping it will likely be a “non-event” with nothing groundbreaking.

“Based on just the way things are shaping up, I think a non-eventful Helsinki meeting might be best for our country,” Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations committee, informed Reuters.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and John Walcott; Additional reporting by Jonathan Landay and Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Mary Milliken; enhancing by Grant McCool

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