Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he had invited Donald Trump to Moscow and that both he and the US president want further summits, despite the uproar in Washington after the two leaders met in Helsinki last week.
The White House said Trump was enthusiastic about another Russia summit. “President Trump looks forward to having President Putin to Washington after the first of the year, and he is open to visiting Moscow upon receiving a formal invitation,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. Separately, Trump’s defence chief, Jim Mattis, said he was considering the possibility of the first talks in years between the defense chiefs of the United States and Russia.
Following the backlash in the US over Trump’s cordial public tone with Putin at the Helsinki summit, American and Russian officials backed away from a proposal to schedule a follow-up summit in Washington. But speaking to reporters in South Africa, where he was attending a summit of BRICS nations, Putin said another meeting with Trump was still on the agenda. “Regarding our meetings, I understand very well what President Trump said.
He has a desire to have further meetings,” Putin said
Moscow has portrayed its tensions with Washington as a result of Trump being hobbled by domestic political disputes and a widespread “Russophobia” perpetrated by holdovers from the Obama years – echoing Trump’s penchant to blame his predecessor for many problems.
By saying that he’s willing to go to Washington if conditions are “appropriate,” Putin underlines that stance and effectively puts pressure on Trump to try to stamp out opposition. His invitation for Trump to come to Moscow – whether the invitation has been formally tendered or is only in spirit – also appears to pressure Trump to show whether he is bold and disruptive enough to buck intense criticism at home.