The Helsinki summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin might as well have been two different events held on separate planets, to judge by the overwhelming media and establishment reactions in the United States and Russia.
The Russians went into the meeting hoping to arrest the death spiral in bilateral relations over the past couple of years. They came away very pleased with the upbeat tone struck between the two presidents and the real, if modest, pledges to restore dialogue on a variety of critical issues, ranging from nuclear arms control to a political settlement for Syria. Tuesday morning’s headline in the government newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta reflected a high level of official satisfaction: “Trump: Putin looked strong in Helsinki.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, the mood expressed in major newspapers seemed one of near despair over Mr. Trump’s perceived kowtowing to Mr. Putin, and refusal Monday to support the US intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf. “Why Won’t Donald Trump Speak for America?” asked The New York Times in an angry editorial that accused the US president of being “singularly naive, or deliberately ignorant” in failing to call Russia to account for its alleged wrongdoing. (On Tuesday, back in Washington, Trump claimed he misspoke, and that he accepts the conclusion that interference took place.) (Read more…)