- A report from the New Yorker says President Donald Trump shocked European allies with an invitation for Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House.
- The invitation, which came just after Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats in response to poisoning of an ex-Russian spy, muddied the Trump administration’s image on US-Russia relations.
President Donald Trump reportedly shocked European diplomats and confused aides by inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House earlier this spring, The New Yorker reported Friday.
It was reported early last month that Trump had invited Putin to the White House in a March 20 phone call, weeks after Trump had expelled 60 Russian diplomats from the US in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK.
The 41-minute phone call was expected to be a discussion on plans for relations with North Korea, but was a jovial call that ended in a friendly invitation, a European diplomat told The New Yorker.
A European diplomat told The New Yorker that Trump’s invite painted him as unwilling to take a harsh stance against Russia, which was a sharp contrast to the response European leaders had to the attack on the spy.
The expulsion of Russian diplomats and the closing of Seattle’s Russian consulate took persistent pleas from leaders in France, Germany, and British Prime Minister Theresa May before earning Trump’s approval, according to The New Yorker.
The Washington Post had previously reported Trump’s decisions to take a harsh stance in US-Russia relations were a reluctant surrender to his team’s advice to cooperate with European allies against Russia.
The leaders have only met in public twice, but Trump has defied his team in his interactions with Putin before. After Putin won in the March election by 76 percentage points, Trump reportedly ignored his team’s notes that he “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” and that he should condemn the attack.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently described Trump’s persistence in mentioning a one-on-one summit, and said the Russian administration was open to further plans.
“He returned to this topic a couple of times, so we let our American colleagues know that we do not want to impose, but we also do not want to be impolite,” Lavrov said, according to an interview transcript posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website. “Considering that President Trump made this proposal, we proceed from the position that he will make it concrete.”