President Donald Trump neatly summed up his view of global politics in an exchange with a reporter when asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin is a friend or foe.
“I really can’t say right now,” Trump said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s a competitor. A competitor. I think that getting along with Russia — getting along with China, getting along with others — is a good thing, not a bad thing. I’ve said that many times for many years. So we’ll see. We’re meeting with Vladimir Putin on Monday. We’ll see how that goes.”
Trump continued that he had a litany of meetings in the coming week during his visit to the NATO summit in Brussels, a state visit to the U.K., and a summit with Putin in Finland: “I have NATO, I have the U.K., which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think?”
Trump has long maintained that he does not like to view countries in ideological terms and would rather engage with them on a bilateral basis to extract as much benefit for the United States as possible.
The president was pressed about the topics for the meeting Wednesday, saying, “I think we’ll be talking about Syria. I think we’ll be talking about Ukraine. I think we’ll be talking about many other subjects. And we’ll see what happens. So you never know.”