The Trump-Putin bromance reshaping the world

From Russia with love: Trump said “there was no collusion at all” to sway the election. © Getty

Was the summit a good sign? Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin symbolised a new form of competitive, personality-led diplomacy that could upend the established world order.

“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago.” That was President Donald Trump's extraordinary message as he stood beside Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, following a summit in Helsinki yesterday.

In two hours of one-on-one talks they discussed Syria, denuclearisation, and their shared desire to improve ties between the US and Russia. Putin declared the Cold War “a thing of the past”.

Trump was under pressure to confront Putin over Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, for which 12 Russian intelligence agents were indicted last week. Trump said he did not see “any reason why” Moscow would be responsible for the attack.

His comments have been met with disbelief by the US and its allies.

On Sunday, in a shock to the established order, Trump called the EU a “foe” for “what they do to us in trade”. He has also rejected NATO and the UN in favour of carrying out diplomacy through high-profile summits.

Yesterday, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, called on major powers to work together to “prevent conflict and chaos”.

Meanwhile, Russian politician Valentina Matvienko said the summit was of “huge significance… for global stability."

Was the summit a good sign?

Russian roulette

Not at all, say some. Trump is doing Putin’s work for him, sowing division in the West and destabilising international structures. Furthermore, Trump puts more faith in Putin, an autocrat with a history of human rights abuses, than his own intelligence services.

Yes, argue others. The US and Russia hold 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, so improved relations can only be a good thing. International institutions are inefficient and the traditional diplomacy of to-ing and fro-ing doesn’t get anything done.

You Decide

  1. Is this summit good or bad for the world?

Activities

  1. Watch a video of Trump’s press conference with Putin. Looking at their body language and listening to what they say, write a paragraph on who you think came out on top.

Some People Say...

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Sun Tzu

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met at Finland’s presidential palace in Helsinki yesterday. Putin arrived almost an hour late, which many are calling a power play. During their first interaction, Trump appeared to wink at Putin.
What do we not know?
Whether the summit will lead to any concrete outcomes. The agenda for the meeting was vague and the two sides did not make any firm agreements.

Word Watch

Cold War
A time of political hostility between the Western powers and the Soviet Union. It started in 1947 and lasted until the latter’s collapse in 1991.
Indicted
To formally accuse of a crime. The Russians are accused of hacking the emails of the Democratic Party.
In trade
The EU has imposed retaliatory trade tariffs on some imports from the US.
NATO and the UN
Trump has been highly critical of both.
Autocrat
A ruler who has absolute power.