The summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is welcome because U.S.-Russian relations are in a terrible state, however the prospect for achieving meaningful substantive improvement is low because suspicions run deep on all sides, says Virginia Tech’s policy and international affairs expert Gerard Toal.

Quoting Toal

In a recent opinion piece, Toal says “the Trump-Putin summit is making many in the transatlantic alliance nervous. Most fear a repeat of Trump’s narcissistic rogue diplomacy in June.”

“Trump’s resentment-fuelled diplomacy with allies was on display again at Nato’s annual summit last week, where he launched another blistering attack on Germany and scolded Nato members for taking advantage of the United States,” says Toal.

“Will the same strange pattern of hostility toward allies and empathy toward autocrats play out again? What if Trump tries to do a deal with Putin, offering meaningful concessions in exchange for his own narcissistic pleasure at having seemingly negotiated a diplomatic breakthrough?”

“Certainly Trump’s manifest comfort with authoritarians creates the potential for another “deal between two dictators” in Helsinki, one based perhaps on another defiantly unilateral gesture from Trump, as in Singapore. It is a prospect that has many very worried, for it just might signal the beginning of the end of the transatlantic alliance,” says Toal.

About Toal

Gerard Toal is a professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech’s campus in the Washington D.C. metro region. He is the author or co-author of 75 journal articles and 23 book chapters on territorial conflicts, U.S. foreign policy, de facto states, popular culture, media and critical geopolitics. His latest book, Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest for Ukraine and the Caucasus, is a study of two Russian invasions of neighboring states, Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, and the circumstances surrounding these events, including U.S. involvement in both states.

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