Donald Trump has invited Russian president Vladimir Putin to the White House, the Kremlin announced Monday, although that claim has yet to be verified from inside the administration, USA Today is reporting.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Putin aide Yury Ushakov told reporters that any summit between the two leaders is, at this point, just in the “talking about it” stage and potentially far from the “clearing schedules” stage. That’s because there’s a lot going on between Russia and the U.S. right now — thorny political issues that will need to be sorted out before the two men can sit down for a face-to-face.
There is, for example, the matter of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal. The pair were found dead in England on March 4, according to The Independent, believed to have been exposed to a “nerve agent.” Russia has vehemently denied involvement in the deaths, and has suggested that the British government had an “interest” in killing the two.
The U.S. and its allies have formally condemned Russia over the incident. Russia, in response, has begun plans to kick U.S. diplomats out of the country. The U.S., in kind, plans to expel Russian diplomats and operatives from this side of the Atlantic, as well as close at least one Russian consulate.
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) March 29, 2018
And of course, an even larger specter hanging over any possible meeting between Putin and Trump is the ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
With these issues still needing to be sorted out, Ushakov said, it’s unlikely that the pair will meet any time soon.
“Against the backdrop of these events, it’s difficult to discuss the possibility of holding a summit… one day, at one time or another, we can arrive at the start of a serious and constructive dialogue.”
According to Russian news agency TASS, the summit was Trump’s idea. According to the outlet, Trump himself called Putin on the telephone and spoke to him directly in order to arrange the meeting.
“During a telephone conversation between our presidents, Trump suggested that the first meeting could be held in Washington.”
It bears noting that TASS is, according to Media Bias/Fact Check, owned by the Russian government. And while their reporting is considered by the media watchdog group as generally factually correct, their reporting does try to paint Russia in the best possible light.
Meanwhile, as of this writing, no U.S. officials have publicly commented on a possible meeting between Trump and Putin. Similarly, neither of Donald Trump’s two Twitter accounts that he uses, @POTUS or @RealDonaldTrump, makes any mention of a possible summit with Putin.