Trump, Putin and Russian leaders in the US

Meet & greet: (left to right) Eisenhower and Khrushchev; Reagan and Gorbachev; Bush and Putin; Trump and Putin.

Should Putin go to the White House? After a controversial summit, Trump shocked the world again by inviting the Russian leader to Washington. But the visit is far from unprecedented.

Fifteen minutes into an interview at a high-profile security forum on Thursday, the US director of national intelligence, Dan Coates, was informed of some breaking news. “Putin is coming to the White House,” said the NBC reporter. Coates let slip a shocked laugh. “OK, that’s going to be special,” he replied.

Yesterday, the intelligence chief said he “didn’t mean to be disrespectful”.

The announcement came days after President Donald Trump enraged the US intelligence community when he appeared to put more faith in Putin than his own FBI agents — and then backtracked.

But is it really so unusual?

There is a long history of Russian leaders visiting the White House, even during the Cold War. While Dwight Eisenhower’s 1959 meeting with Nikita Khrushchev was marred by the Soviets shooting down a US warplane, Ronald Reagan’s summit with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 led to a nuclear missiles treaty. Putin himself visited the White House in 2001.

Trump has repeatedly shown he is comfortable holding one-on-one talks with strongman leaders like Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping. His support for Putin last week heightened speculation that Russia may have kompromat on Trump.

Should Putin visit the White House?

The Russian Bear

No, argue some. The invitation undermines the West’s attempt to sideline Russia for its military action in Ukraine and Syria, and the recent Novichok poisonings. As the Trump campaign is investigated for possible collusion with Moscow, it’s inappropriate and dangerous to leave Trump alone with Putin.

Of course he should, say others. Like him or not, Putin is the leader of a dangerous superpower and could be around for a long time. With 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons between them, greater cooperation and a productive dialogue between the US and Russia is a good thing.

You Decide

  1. Should Putin visit the White House?

Activities

  1. Research which Russian presidents have visited the White House, and plot their visits on a timeline.

Some People Say...

“Sometimes it is necessary to be lonely in order to prove that you are right.”

Vladimir Putin

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
On Friday, the White House announced that Trump had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington in the autumn. The news sparked widespread anger in the US.
What do we not know?
What Trump discussed during his two-hour, closed door meeting with Putin in Helsinki last week. Democrats have demanded notes from the talks, fearing what Trump may have told Putin.

Word Watch

More faith in Putin
Trump accepted Putin’s denial that Moscow meddled in the election, then said he misspoke.
Cold War
(1947-1991) Decades of heightened tensions between the Soviet Union and the Western allies.
Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping
The leaders of North Korea and China.
Kompromat
A Russian abbreviation of “compromising materials”.
Ukraine and Syria
Russian forces took over Crimea. Moscow is also supporting Syrian President Assad in the war.
Novichok poisonings
Moscow is believed to be responsible for the poisoning of a former spy in Salisbury.