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Growing Alarm in Europe as Trump Warms to Putin in Helsinki


Growing Alarm in Europe as Trump Warms to Putin in Helsinki
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Growing Alarm in Europe as Trump Warms to Putin in Helsinki

Across Europe, there is growing alarm at U.S. President Donald Trump's willingness to build relations with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, that many believe poses a clear and present security threat.

Russia's forceful seizure of of Crimea from Ukraine was barely mentioned during the joint press conference between Presidents Trump and Putin Monday after their summit in Helsinki, Finland.

"President Trump's stance on Crimea is well known, and he sticks to it," Putin said. "He speaks about illegal attaching of Crimea to the Russian Federation. We have a different point of view."

"For us, for the Russian Federation, this question is closed," Putin concluded.

Although there is relief in Kyiv -- and throughout Europe -- that Trump did not back his Russian counterpart on Crimea, the tone of the news conference has alarmed many American allies.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shake hand at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018.
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shake hand at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018.

"The extent to which he almost went out of his way to not only create some degree of false moral equivalence between the EU and Russia, and the West and Russia, and the United States and Russia, I think that will have struck many," said Mark Gaelotti, a senior fellow with the Institute of International Relations Prague. “Insofar as this meeting has led anywhere, it’s actually away from the Western agenda, it’s away from things like trying to withdraw from its annexation of Crimea.”

The Trump-Putin summit came on the eve of the anniversary of the 2014 downing of Flight MH17, which independent investigators say was shot down by a Russian missile.

The fact that Russia has failed to adequately respond to that accusation — added to a growing list of other gross violations of international norms — means few other Western leaders are prepared to follow President Trump’s lead in mending ties with Moscow.

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