It may be a good thing that US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not touch on the Baltic states during their joint press conference in Helsinki on Monday, as Trump’s messages are always unpredictable, said political scientist Andres Kasekamp.
Speaking at a joint press conference following their meeting on Monday, Trump and Putin did not mention Finland as a neutral intermediary country in the disagreement between Russia and the US centered around the Baltic countries and NATO, reported ERR’s radio news, noting that Russia has criticised NATO and US military presence in the Baltics.
“On the one hand we can be thankful, because we expected the worst out of Trump’s mouth,” Kasekamp told ERR on Monday night. “Maybe it’s a good thing that these two leaders didn’t outright touch on our region, because when it comes to Trump, you never know what he might say. Such as when he said following his meeting with North Korean leader [Kim Jong-un] that the US has unilaterally decided to call off its military exercises in South Korea. So thankfully we did not have such a moment at this meeting, or at least at this press conference.”
He noted that both world leaders of course praised the Finnish president and state for their hospitality, but there didn’t appear to be any bigger security-related matter related o Finland or the Baltic region.
According to Kasekamp, however, Trump and Putin didn’t have much of any significance to say at Monday afternoon’s press conference.
“There were no definite agreements or initiatives,” he said. “Just Trump’s own self-admiration, the denigration of his predecessors — Barack Obama in particular was unable to achieve anything like this — that Russian-US relations had gone downhill thanks to his predecessors and that Trump was now trying to improve the situation.”
Kasekamp noted that Trump described how prior to his becoming president, Russian-US relations had never been so bad before, and that he had brought about a positive turn in the two countries’ relations.
“But throughout the entire press conference, not one new initiative or agreement was brought up that would signal that anything had changed significantly beyond the fact that these two men have gotten even better acquainted and found common ground,” he concluded.