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Hopes, expectations for Trump-Putin talks today

United States (US) President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet today in Helsinki, Finland.

If such a meeting had been held during the Cold War – from the end of World War II in April, 1945, to the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in December, 1991 – the whole world’s attention would be focused on the summit meeting, for the world’s two superpowers had thousands of nuclear missiles aimed at each other and allied countries. But times have changed and Trump’s meeting with Putin today does not hold as much interest as, say, a meeting with China’s Xi Jinping or with the European leaders of G7, or even with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un.

Today’s meeting in Helsinki holds greater importance and implications for American officials and politicians because of an ongoing investigation by a special counsel into alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election of 2016. The Russians have been accused of helping Trump win the election, by supplying his campaign with information against his election opponent Hillary Clinton.

The US and Russia have also been at odds over the seven-year-old civil war in Syria, whose government Russia supports with its armed forces against rebels, some of which are backed by the US. The US has also imposed economic sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its support to this day of separatists fighting the government in Ukraine.

Trump has called for improving relations with Russia but the US government, led by the US Congress, has imposed new anti-Russia sanctions. It is these sanctions that Putin hopes the US will lift when he meets with Trump today.

Russia may no longer be the superpower that it once was, with the capability to destroy the whole world with its nuclear missiles, but it still has great economic influence with its considerable oil reserves. It Is also behind the continuing resistance of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. So that the Syrian war has now lasted seven years.

If the Trump-Putin summit today can lead to an end to the Syrian War, which triggered the massive migration of Middle East people to Europe, it would be a great accomplishment for the two leaders and a major step towards world peace.