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By Henry Meyer, Ilya Arkhipov,
14 November 2017

Russia Rues Trump-Putin Meeting That Got Away

U.S. hawks "ready to kill" detente hopes, Russian senator says

Russian lawmakers and analysts bemoaned U.S. President Donald Trump`s failure to hold a formal meeting with Kremlin counterpart Vladimir Putin at the APEC summit in Vietnam, as state media sought to put a brave face on the perceived snub.

The U.S. political establishment is "ready to do anything to kill even the slightest possibility of a normalization of Russian-American ties," Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the defense and security committee in Russia`s upper house of parliament, said Monday on Facebook. "We`re talking about a total step backward."

While Trump and Putin held brief conversations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the Kremlin had announced that the two presidents would have only their second meeting since the U.S. leader took office in January. The White House contradicted this, saying that no meeting was scheduled. Putin later told reporters that the failure to meet was due to "certain protocol formalities which our teams, unfortunately, failed to coordinate," and that officials "will be disciplined for that."

Russian frustration is mounting at the absence of a breakthrough in U.S. relations under Trump, who came to power promising a new era after ties plunged to their worst level since the Cold War during President Barack Obama`s administration. Instead, relations have soured further amid intensifying U.S. investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election campaign to help Trump win. Putin has denied the accusations and Trump has called them "fake news."


The absence of talks at APEC means either that "Trump is falling in line behind the general anti-Russian feeling or is trying to counter it but isn`t succeeding," said Andrey Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research group set up by the Kremlin. "It shows that dialogue is being put off and opponents of any improvement of ties with Russia have scored another victory."

While Putin hailed Trump as "absolutely polite and friendly," he told reporters at the summit that they`d had too little time to discuss "the entire range of our relations, and there is a great deal to talk about." The U.S. and Russia were limited to issuing a joint statement on Syria at APEC.

The official government daily, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, led its front page Monday with a photograph of Trump and Putin talking as they walked during the summit with the headline: "Road Map. War with Terrorism to Continue. But That`s Not Enough." Still, the newspaper noted that the two presidents spoke briefly "at least three times."

The culprit was the White House protocol office "which did everything to ensure that a meeting didn`t take place," Russian state TV presenter Dmitry Kiselyov said on his flagship Sunday program. "Trump showed personal perseverance and something managed to be discussed."

U.S. officials "wrecked the talks because they didn`t want them to take place," Alexei Pushkov, a member of the defense and security committee in Russia`s upper house of parliament, said on Twitter.

"The problem with Trump is that his hands are completely tied," Sergei Karaganov, a foreign policy expert and former Kremlin adviser, said by phone. "The domestic situation in the U.S. means he can`t come to an agreement on any issue with anyone."

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