When President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Finland next month to discuss their differences, it is their similarities that are most important.
Trump's expressed interest in a close relationship with Putin – argues that it is better Despite the reluctance to criticize him, the critics of the Russian autocrat have long been concerned that deepened when Trump preferred a few the government's tactics used by the Russian president.
Both men have attempted to undermine institutions as threatening or unfaithful, suspecting that someone is scrutinizing their actions, degrading opponents for tactical advantage, recognizing the value of a spectacle, and recognizing the benefits of them as opposed to Questioned the interest of their country-directed international institutions.
Russia experts emphasize there is no comparison between Trump's policies and Putin's most draconian actions. But they are worried about Trump's sympathy for the Russian leader and their similar instincts could lead the US president to make concessions at the summit, such as arms control, Putin's detested NATO military alliance, and Russian activities in Ukraine that were condemned from the international community
"All it takes is for Trump to say something bad about NATO when he's in front of the press with Putin," said Alexander Vershbow, a former US ambassador to both Russia and the United States NATO Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. "That would be bad."
The two leaders have met twice, but each time on the sidelines of major international meetings, and this will be their first independent summit. The White House and the Kremlin announced on Thursday that Trump and Putin will meet in Helsinki on 1
Trump will also make his first presidential visit to the UK the same trip. By holding the Putin meeting, Trump symbolically raised American-Russian relations to some kind of parity with the US with its closest ally and the 70-year transatlantic NATO partnership.
During the NATO Meeting and Trump's Journey to Britain Recent tensions with allies over trade and United States leadership in the world highlight that his meeting with Putin can underscore the similarities between the two men who touch on their critics ,
"He takes a much transactional, kind of zero-sum approach to foreign relations and trade," said Vershbow of Trump. "Sure, zero-sums are a term you can almost always apply to Putin's worldview."
At their meeting, the investigation of Robert S. Müller III. Spotlight on Russia's interference in the 2016 elections Everyone in the Trump campaign worked with Moscow.
Trump expressed his willingness to take Putin's word that, despite the conclusions of US intelligence, Russia did not want to influence the election, while he described Müller's investigation as a "witch hunt!"
Some of Trump's critics said that his annoyance over the Justice Department, which is investigating his campaign, has hints about Lt. c & # 39; est moi – the state is mine – that Putin has would appreciate.
For Trump, I think he somehow believes that the judiciary should work for him – not him the President of the United States, but he, Donald Trump, "said Kelly Magsamen, a former high-level Pentagon and National Security Council Advisor. "He does not consider democracy an institution. He thinks of the presidency like him.
Similar to Putin, Trump encourages his most loyal supporters to assume bias in the investigation of presidential actions and rejects criticism of the critics.
"Russia continues to say that they have done nothing with Meddling in our election do! Where is the DNC server, and why did not Shady James B. Comey and the now disgraced FBI agents take it and examine it closely? Why is Hillary / Russia not considered? So many questions, so much corruption! "Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday Comey is a former director of the FBI, DNC refers to the Democratic National Committee, while Hillary Hillary Clinton serves as a reference point.
Trump attacked Mueller himself and asked in a separate tweet," When will Bob Mueller list his conflicts of interest? Why did it take so long? Are you listed at the top of his $ 22,000,000 report?
Both leaders also enjoy using the spectacle of great events to highlight their leadership role – something that could be shown in Helsinki.
Trump praised Russia's staging of the World Cup this month, during the 2026 contest held in Helsinki North America will take place.
"I think the venue was fantastic. They really did show something very special, "Trump said on Wednesday with Russia." I fought very hard to bring it to the United States, Mexico and Canada, as you've probably heard. "
Both men Also, consider alliances and cooperative decisions with deep suspicion.
"The things they share In common, they have no affinity to democratic values in the first place," said Magsamen, who is now vice president of national security at the Liberal Center for American Progress. "Trump is fundamentally aloof from democratic values and why they matter."
Putin has largely silenced a once-flaring political opposition and pushed independent media into the background, accusing his government of distorting elections and imprisoning opponents and kill.
"Putin is totally cynical about Western democracy, G age division, rule of law. He thinks it's all just a facade, and our system is as corrupt and cynical as his system, "Vershbow said.
Trump has publicly demonstrated that he was not worried about Putin's harsh actions and alarmed some of his advisers when he congratulated Putin on his electoral victory in March
For the summit, Trump wants to build friendly relations with Putin, thereby rejecting the idea that he adopts a man he has sometimes praised, and in Putin he sees someone with whom he does business He wants to make a personal mark on one of the most important and difficult US foreign relations relations.
"I said it from the first day: Getting along with Russia and with China and with everyone is a very good thing," said Trump on Wednesday when he was asked about his upcoming meeting with Putin, "It's good for the world. It's good for us. It's good for everyone. "