U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin arrived at the presidential palace in Finland for a long-awaited summit on Monday after Trump blamed Washington’s own past “foolishness and stupidity” for bad relations.
The Russian foreign ministry “liked” Trump’s comments on Twitter ahead of the summit, in which Trump denounced the investigation into Russian meddling in American elections as well as previous U.S. policy.
“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” wrote Trump.
The two leaders were due to start their summit in the Finland capital Helsinki with no one else in the room apart from interpreters. They were scheduled to hold a working lunch accompanied by aides later on Monday before speaking to media.
The Kremlin said it did not expect much from the meeting but hoped it would be a “first step” to resolving a crisis in ties.
“Presidents Trump and Putin respect each other and they get along well,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “There is no clear agenda. It will be determined by the heads of state themselves as they go along.”The summit comes at a time when relations between the two superpowers are widely seen on both sides to be at their lowest point since the Cold War. Trump has repeatedly said it would be in the U.S. interest to improve those ties.
Critics and Trump’s own advisers have urged Trump to use the summit to press Putin hard about “malign” activities, from annexing Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula to interfering in Western elections, to poisoning a spy in England, which Moscow denies.
During a breakfast meeting with Finland’s president before the meeting with Putin in the Finnish capital, Trump appeared upbeat. Asked what he would say to Putin, Trump said: “We’ll do just fine, thank you.”
While Trump has been abroad since last week, the special prosecutor investigating allegations that Russia interfered to help him win the 2016 presidential election indicted 12 Russians on Friday for stealing Democratic Party documents.