When President Donald Trump met Russian President Vladimir Putin at their first summit in Finland on Monday, some people expected fireworks over Russian meddling in the U.S. 2016 election, Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, or the bombing of Syria in support of President Bashar Assad.
Instead, the summit seemed to bring the two even closer — so close, in fact, that within the last few hours, they’ve agreed on half a dozen items:
That the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is bad, and the U.S. is to blame.
“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted on Sunday, referring to the special counsel's investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded on its official Twitter account: “We agree.”
“I outlined first steps for improving this relationship, to restore the acceptable level of trust and going back to the previous level of interaction on all mutual-interest issues,” Putin said Monday.
“But our relationship has never been worse than it is now,” Trump said. “However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.”
That there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
When asked about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, Trump seemed to take Putin's word over that of his own intelligence agencies.
“I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia,” Trump said. “I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be. So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
That they should investigate the meddling together.
Trump and Putin suggested that Moscow and Washington could both conduct criminal investigations into some Russian intelligence officials accused of meddling in the 2016 election.
“The appropriate commission headed by Mueller, he can use this as a solid foundation and send an official request to us so that we would interrogate, hold questioning of these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes,” Putin said. “Our enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States. Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step. We can actually permit representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller, we can let them into the country. They will be present at questioning.”
Trump called it "an incredible offer."
They agree on securing Israel’s border with Syria.
Putin said he agreed with the U.S. that Syria’s border with Israel should be secured in line with a 1974 ceasefire agreement.
“This will allow us to return calm to the Golan, restore the cease-fire between Syria and Israel, and fully guarantee the security of the State of Israel,” Putin said on Monday. “Mr. President devoted a lot of attention to this. Russia wants this to happen.”
This could be seen as a win for Trump, who has been pushing Russia to help eliminate Iran’s role in Syria. The U.S. presidents said that going back to the cease-fire agreement could help create safety for Israel — “something that both President Putin and myself” want to happen.
That Russia did a great job hosting the World Cup.
“I’d like to congratulate you on a really great World Cup, one of the best ever,” Trump said. “It was beautifully done, so congratulations.”
Cover image: President Donald Trump shows off a World Cup football given to him by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)