Trump sits down with Putin at beginning of Helsinki summit


President Trump has arrived at his meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin after promising to improve relations at the lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

After a late arrival by Putin the commander-in-chief and his Kremlin counterpart met at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday for an afternoon of meetings.

Trump and Putin both stressed that they had many issues to discuss, with the American stressing nuclear weapons.

The President went into the meeting despite criticism at home stemming from the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for the alleged hacking of Democratic emails and meddling in the 2016 election, with doubts as to whether he would press Putin on it.

He continued to blast the investigation into the alleged interference hours before the meeting as he had a meeting with the Finnish president, labeling it a “rigged witch hunt.”

Trump also faulted the U.S. for a decline in relations with its longtime 20th century foe, saying that the “relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry liked the tweet and later posted “we agree.”

Beyond the alleged election interference, sanctions against Russia, the welcoming of Edward Snowden, gay rights, the annexation of Crimea, violence in eastern Ukraine, the Bashar Assad regime, U.S. missile systems in Eastern Europe and the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain have added tension to the ties that connect Washington and Moscow to the point where Russians and Americans have come into armed conflict in Syria.

There were no “deliverables” aimed at with the summit, though observers have worried that Trump will offer concessions to Putin in an attempt to come out of the meeting with some result.

Trump, when asked about the Crimea annexation, has repeatedly blamed it on the Obama administration, without answering whether he will break with U.S. policy to recognize it.