Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Trump Could Meet with Putin and Kim Jong-Un in Vladivostok, Russian Analyst Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 21 – Aleksandr Khaldey, a Russian analyst, says that “Vladivostok is a possible site for a meeting of Putin, Trump, and Kim Jong-Un” now that the US president has declared that he wants to meet with both the Russian and North Korean leaders (

            On the one hand, this may be no more than an attempt to attract attention to the fact that Trump telephoned Putin to congratulate the Russian leader on his re-election, expressed concern about the new Russian weapons the Kremlin leader talked about on March 1, and said he would like to meet.

            But on the other, it may reflect a trial balloon on the part of some in the Russian government who would see such a venue as a major victory for Putin for three reasons: First, Putin would be the host and thus in a position to take special credit for the meeting not only at home but abroad.

            Second, such a venue would allow Russia to present itself as a bridge for Trump in his meeting with the North Korean leader, thus playing to the American president’s self-image and also undercutting those in the US opposed to that meeting or one with Putin. By combining the two, Putin would thus be helping Trump cast the session as a personal triumph.

            And third, such a tripartite summit would both signal to much of the world that the newly re-elected Putin wants to reduce tensions with the West and to others at home and abroad who would view it as yet another indication of the ways in which Putin supports anti-American dictators like Kim.

            Moreover, if some agreement were to emerge from a meeting of this kind, Putin could be counted on to claim and many in Russia and the West would accept the idea that he played a role in helping the US to force Pyongyang to back down and act more cooperatively with the United States.

            Khaldey for his part, doesn’t expect things to work out. “A meeting on Putin’s turf would give him a strong positional advantage,” he says; “and Trump will not go for that.” But adding Kim to the mix might change things by addressing US concerns about Pyongyang – even though Khaldey says it would make any such summit’s sessions more “stormy.”

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