Will Trump-Putin Summit Be Chemistry Vs Substance?

Summit meetings can change the world. Back in the 1970s, West German Chancellor Willy Brandt used to say that it was of the highest importance for leaders to "get a smell of each other." Chemistry between leaders was a useful factor in soothing fractious relations, he thought.

On July 16, U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, will hold their first official summit — in Finland's capital — just days after the U.S. leader is scheduled to hold meetings with NATO, an alliance that has been in his crosshairs. The timing of the meetings gives Europe the opportunity to shape what the U.S. leader may seek from the summit.

Helsinki is no stranger to encounters between U.S. and Russian heads of state; but, the summit will rank as one of the oddest, say analysts, coming against the backdrop of probes into the actions of the U.S. president's election advisers amid claims they colluded with Moscow's interference in the 2016 White House race.

Trump's domestic foes fault him for shying away from criticizing Putin personally, arguing it gives credence to claims made by a former British spy that the Kremlin holds compromising information on the U.S. president. Trump has angrily dismissed the claims.

The U.S. leader has said in the past that "getting along with Russia [and others] is a good thing, not a bad thing" to explain why he wants to improve relations with Moscow.

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