Crimea And NATO Loom Large Over Monday's Trump-Putin Summit

Lynette Rowe
July 17, 2018

"Tell us where you're going to extradite those folks", said Representative Trey Gowdy, who chaired a raucous House investigative hearing on Thursday that highlighted bitter, partisan divisions within the US Congress over a probe of Russian election meddling that has clouded Trump's presidency.

Donald Trump has said he may ask Vladimir Putin during their upcoming summit meeting to extradite to the USA 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of attempting to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

"I go in with low expectations", Trump said in an interview with CBS News, part of which is set to air Sunday morning.

Speaking on the BBC, she said: "He told me I should sue the European Union - not go into negotiations".

President Donald Trump says he will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin about extraditing the 12 Russian military intelligence agents indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday for meddling in the 2016 election, adding it's something he "hadn't thought of". Russia's constitution also prohibits turning over citizens to foreign governments.

"And this is what these two men, Trump and Putin, have in common - contempt for democracy, contempt for worldwide agreements, contempt for human rights", Heidi Hautala, a member of the European Parliament from the Greens of Finland, told the rally.

In the CBS News interview, Trump declined to discuss his goals for the summit - "I'll let you know after the meeting", he said - but said he believes such sessions are beneficial.

Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about Russian involvement in the hacking while being accused by Democrats of cozying up to Putin.

His meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un ended with a decision by Trump to end US-South Korean military exercises, much to the surprise of Seoul and Tokyo.

But White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders has said the meeting will go ahead as planned in Helsinki.

"I respect the leaders of those countries", he told CBS. Trump and Putin continued to talk for another hour.

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Trump also sent a stern message to America's European allies just days after a rocky North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Belgium. "But I will absolutely firmly ask the question, and hopefully we'll have a very good relationship with Russian Federation".

Asked whether he would press his Russian counterpart to send to the USA members of the Russian military intelligence agency accused of hacking Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign, he said: "Well, I might".

Jeffrey Mankoff, a Russian Federation expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said: 'Trump has maybe a little less room to maneuver if he wants to downplay the issue or pretend that it's not real'.

Trump complained: "No matter how well I do at the Summit", he'll face "criticism that it wasn't good enough".

Over the weekend, the USA indicted 12 alleged Russian military intelligence officers for allegedly interfering with the 2016 presidential elections. Trump speaks fondly of Putin and a desire for better relations with Moscow, but the rest of his executive branch remains highly critical and deeply suspicious of the Russian president and the Kremlin's intentions.

The Helsinki summit comes amid a political fallout in often-contentious relations that nosedived over Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and further eroded over allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential elections.

"America and the European Union are best friends", Tusk tweeted.

The leaders' meeting comes as the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election charges a total of 25 Russians in connection.

"I think we have to protect ourselves", Paul said.

In Helsinki, more than 2,000 people denounced attacks on human rights, press freedom and dissent as they marched to Helsinki's central Senate Square. "He may come in with maps of Syria or maps of Ukraine, and frankly I think he'll take advantage of this president, who we know doesn't do much prep work before these meetings", Sen. But that doesn't mean they are bad.

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