Trump call to Putin could include discussion about future relations, sanctions
Saturday President Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will have their first official contact — a much anticipate talk about future relations between two world powers with a complicate history, including recent reports that Putin and Russia tried to influence the 2016 White House race for Trump.
A senior White House aide told Fox News that Trump and Putin are likely to discuss the sanctions that Trump’s predecessor, President Obama, imposed on Russia for annexing Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014.
The annexation was widely considered an act of aggression toward neighboring Ukraine’s effort to have a more democratic government.
Even the possibility of Trump lifting the sanctions has brought widespread concern, and criticism, from Washington Democrats and Republicans and from around the world.
“For the sake of America’s national security and that of our allies, I hope President Trump will put an end to this speculation … and reject such a reckless course,” Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain said in a statement. “If he does not, I will work with my colleagues to codify sanctions against Russia into law.”
Trump has said that he is prepared to review the sanctions, as part of a large effort to improve relations with the United States’ former Cold War rival.
But he was noncommittal Friday, saying, “We’ll see what happens. As far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that.”
Trump made the remarks Friday alongside British Prime Minster Theresa May, whose country — as part of the European Union — also levied sanctions on Russia following its provocations in Ukraine. May has said the sanctions should remain in place.
The call to Putin is just one of five Saturday that Trump will have with world leaders, in his hyperactive first nine days in the White House.
He’ll also speak with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Australia Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull, in addition to talking to Putin and likely signing more executive orders.
May’s White House trip made her the first world leader to visit Trump since he took office last week.
Putin and Trump say they have never met, but they have expressed admiration for each other’s forceful leadership style.
The U.S. intelligence services recently released a report that found Putin and Russia meddled in the White House race, in which Trump upset Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.
The report found no evidence of vote tampering. But months of stolen, then leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta had some damaging impact on Clinton’s presidential bid.
Trump has been openly critical of the report, and the Kremlin has denied involvement in the race.
Recent polls show that anti-American sentiment in Russia has dropped to 56 percent. Pollsters say it’s due to Trump’s indication he wants to improve relations.
The Kremlin has welcomed Trump’s promises to mend ties with Moscow, which also has been badly strained by the war in Syria.