“The most important fact is the fact of the meeting itself”

Peskov s interview Part 1

About the talks between Putin and Trump, nuclear parity and “Nord Stream-2”.

The talks between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump in Helsinki will allow us to make a “small step” towards constructing a constructive dialogue between Russia and the United States. This was stated by Dmitry Peskov, the presidential press secretary. He noted that, despite the difficult political situation, the heads of state treat each other with respect and are ready “not just for an exchange of views.” There is no agenda for the summit, but it can be expected that the leaders of the two countries will touch upon the issues of international security, Syria, Iran, and, possibly, the Nord Stream -2, against the construction of which the United States is speaking, added Peskov. The issues of reviewing the status of the Crimea or giving Washington Edward Snowden Russia do not intend to discuss, he stressed.

– Do you think, in principle, does it make sense to negotiate with a man who can break his promises if it comes to international politics? This, for example, the principle of America First or the promise to stop waging wars around the world and not to start new ones.

  • You see, this principle is relevant for any head of state. Because any head of state in the course of contacts with his foreign counterparts primarily defends the interests of their country. And in this regard, our president is very pragmatic, very open and consistent. He always says that the interests of Russia and the Russian people are the most important for him. And that’s why he respects the fact that his worldview, only mirrored – in relation to his country, is shared by Donald Trump. Another thing is that such an approach, let’s say, is viable only in combination with another postulate. This is when such an approach is based on the commitment to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation, taking into account the interests of each other. This can all together give, let’s say, certain prerequisites for the development of cooperation. This is what we really hope for: that this meeting at the top will allow us to make at least a small step away from the crisis state in which our bilateral relations are.

– I just meant that Donald Trump promised to stick to this principle. But many believe that he is abandoning this promise.

– Look, let’s not forget that after all, Donald Trump is a very popular president in the United States of America. And many in the US are very positive about the results of his work as president. Everything that happens, all the investigations and so on is, rather, the internal affair of the United States. To many aspects of these investigations – insofar as it concerns us and our country – we are perplexed. But let’s leave it behind the brackets. Still, Trump is the president of the United States of America. They had previously had contacts with President Putin. They treat each other with respect. And they get pretty good at talking. Although before that they did not have the opportunity for long-term communication, this time we are counting on a more meaningful conversation.

– Dmitry Sergeyevich, let’s stop on this a little. A few days ago, Donald Trump was asked whether he considered Vladimir Vladimirovich his enemy or friend. And he did not answer this question, but used the word “competitor”. How do you like this formulation? Would you name Donald Trump as a competitor in your administration?

– Competition is, rather, a positive phenomenon. Due to competition, the world is developing. But on one condition – that this is fair competition. This is fair competition in politics, this is fair competition in the economy. This leads to the acceleration of the development of all world processes. We regretfully state that this competition is not always fair. Here, I think, one can openly say that the recent history of the statements of the American side about the Nord Stream-2, on a purely commercial project, is probably a glaring example of unfair and unfair competition.

  • Will this issue be specifically discussed? And are you ready to somehow resist the pressure that the potentially American administration, the White House, can exert on Germany in this matter?

– Of course, we are concerned about such manifestations. But let’s not forget that Nord Stream 2 is an international project. It’s not even Russian or Russian-German – it’s an international joint venture, where there are a lot of shareholders, these are very large companies from different countries. And of course, when these shareholders are threatened or they threaten Russia and Germany with sanctions in case of further implementation of this project, this causes grave concern. I would not say that this will necessarily be on the agenda. I do not think that this will be discussed first.

– If we talk about Trump’s visit to Brussels, for example (in general, in principle, the intensity of contacts between the US president and other leaders of states has been very high recently), is there any sense in comparing them with Vladimir Vladimirovich in this area, shall we say? And do you follow closely with whom and how Donald Trump communicates, especially before this meeting?

– Well, of course, the meeting, in fact, was preceded by the NATO summit – quite an important event. You know perfectly well our attitude towards NATO. Of course, in this respect all contacts are carefully monitored and analyzed information that comes about these contacts. And what to compare? Putin has his own international activity, Trump has his own international activity. The two leading countries of the world, of course, can not live only within their borders. Their interests extend all over the globe – this is quite a natural thing. Putin and Trump shook hands in the palace of Nicholas II. But is there any, maybe even a competition? And why is it that NATO allies from NATO are primarily so concerned that Mr. Trump will meet with Vladimir Vladimirovich? It’s probably their headache, they say, not ours, why they are concerned. Russia has never sought to turn its interaction or its relations with some countries against other countries, against third countries – this can not be said. Therefore, such fears, of course, are very strange. Including because, probably, it is Russia and the United States of America that have a special responsibility for maintaining strategic stability and security in the world. It is our two countries. And so common sense dictates that the countries of the world, and Europeans in particular, should be interested in normalizing relations between Moscow and Washington.

We, of course, understand that so far there has not been such a bilateral press conference and this is an extraordinary event. Preparing for such a press conference is also something special for you? This is a normal process, Putin gives a press conference quite often, and with his foreign counterparts. But, of course, it was a very important press conference. nd we hope that it will be very informative for the army of journalists, who will wait for the end of the meeting.

 

– Dmitry Sergeyevich, the meeting of the two leaders was announced immediately after the visit of Mr. Bolton to Moscow. In the end, he came to finally give a green light and settle all the formalities? Or are there any arrangements that we may hear about in Helsinki have already begun to work on?

– This was a very important visit during the preparations for the summit. It allowed “to check the clock” on the whole list of issues that are on the agenda of our bilateral relations. Once again, decide where possible coincidences in approaches where they are impossible at all and where they are impossible now, but it is worthwhile to look for them. Therefore, it was a very important contact. Yes, it should be noted that in Helsinki, while the presidents are talking, we expect that Lavrov and Pompeo will also hold their talks. This will be another important element of the summit.

– Western media are always talking about some big bargaining, which, in their opinion, is to be in Finland. How relevant is the word “bargaining”? And, in principle, Moscow has something to bargain with the Americans? It is unlikely that we will wait for the day when it will be proved – the Russians have no compromising evidence on Trump. Yes, the word “bargaining” is absolutely inappropriate here. Here, rather, it will be about comparing positions, explaining positions to each other, in order to either confirm or dispel each other’s fears on a number of issues. You know that the relations are in a very bad state and that Russia was not the initiator of such a collapse of the whole complex of our relations. We hope that at least some rudiments of political will for reaching a normalization of relations will be manifested. That is, for example, some rumors that appeared in the American media, for example, that Russia might be ready to give Edward Snowden to Washington-do not correspond to reality?

-No, they absolutely do not correspond, of course, this can not be said. I mean that such deals are absolutely out of place.

– And what about the Crimea?

See Part 2 of the Interview.