Trump’s ‘very good’ chats with Putin
Since entering the White House, Trump has had at least 10 relatively friendly meetings and official phone calls with Putin
This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Blake Paterson on politico.com on June 28, 2018.
President Donald Trump’s upcoming summit in with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16 will be the most closely-watched interaction between the two leaders since Trump took office 18 months ago.
But the get-together is only the latest in a string of relatively friendly calls and meetings between the two. These conversations have often drawn the scorn of Democrats and even occasionally hawkish Republicans who fear that Trump is kowtowing to Putin’s aggressive tactics, which include the annexation of Ukrainian territory and widespread allegations that Putin ordered both the poisoning of a ex-Russian spy on British turf and a campaign to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election.
Since Trump entered the White House, the duo has spoken directly at least 10 times in face-to-face meetings and official phone conversations. The exchanges, according to news reports and official White House readouts, typically exclude any direct criticism on the part of Trump.
Below, POLITICO has compiled a list of encounters between the two leaders, including the topics they discussed and context for the meeting.
January 28, 2017
Trump received a congratulatory, “positive call” from Putin following the inauguration, a “significant start to improving the relationship” between the two countries, according to a readout from the White House. The two also spoke about repairing economic relations and efforts to cooperate on destroying the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
April 3, 2017
Trump spoke with Putin to express his “deepest condolences” following a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg that killed 14 people. Trump offered the “full support” of the United States in responding to the attack and both agreed that terrorism must be “decisively and quickly defeated.”
May 2, 2017
Trump and Putin discussed in a phone call plans to meet later that summer at the annual G-20 summit of leading economic countries and agreed that the “suffering in Syria has gone on for far too long,” a reference to the multi-year civil war that has beset the country.
The conversation was a “very good one,” according to a readout from the White House, and also included discussions of terrorism and the nuclear threat in North Korea.
July 7, 2017
Trump and Putin met formally for more than two hours on the sidelines of the G-20 summit and discussed , among other topics, reducing violence in Syria and a possible joint cybersecurity unit to protect elections, a confusing proposal that was met with widespread dismay and mockery given Moscow’s widely acknowledged digital election meddling.
At a dinner with world leaders later that night, Trump spoke to Putin again, this time without translators or advisers.
November 11, 2017
Following a private meeting between Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Vietnam, Trump said he believed Putin was sincere in denying Russian interference in the 2016 race.
“He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again,” Trump told reporters following the meeting. “He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”
November 21, 2017
The two leaders spoke on the phone for more than an hour, discussing the civil war in Syria one day after a rare face-to-face meeting between Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The two spoke again about terrorism, Ukraine and North Korea. Putin annexed a portion of Ukraine in 2014, defying many countries that declared it a violation of international law.
December 14, 2017
In a 10-minute phone call, Trump thanked Putin for “acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference,” according to a White House summary. The two leaders also spoke about how they can work together to resolve the unexpectedly rapid development of North Korea’s nuclear program.
December 17, 2017
Putin called Trump to thank him for CIA information that helped the Russian authorities thwart ISIS-inspired attacks against the Russian city of St. Petersburg.
“President Trump appreciated the call” and “both leaders agreed that this serves as an example of the positive things that can occur when our countries work together,” according to the White House.
February 12, 2018
Trump spoke on the phone with Putin to express condolences for a plane crash outside Moscow that killed 71 people. The two also discussed Putin’s upcoming meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, as well as steps to denuclearize North Korea.
March 20, 2018
Trump congratulated Putin in a phone call for winning reelection, despite instructions from his aides not to applaud the leader after an election racked by reports of ballot stuffing and other improprieties. Notably, the two did not discuss the Kremlin’s alleged role in the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, which had occurred only weeks earlier.