Stories by Stephen Sestanovich

Expert Voices

With Trump more isolated on Russia, Putin could see few gains from summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin hands U.S. President Donald Trump a World Cup football during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hands President Donald Trump a World Cup soccer ball at their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki. Photo: Chris McGrath via Getty Images

President Trump humiliated himself in the press conference that followed his meetings with Russian president Vladimir Putin — there's little argument about that. His comments on election meddling have produced a storm of outrage. But were they a significant win for Putin?

The big picture. It’s right to be appalled by Trump’s performance. Yet after Russian officials are done gloating, they may find the results a little disappointing.

Expert Voices

Despite Trump’s attacks on NATO members, U.S. support also down

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sits down after she gave a government declaration at the Bundestag ahead of the upcoming E.U. and NATO summits on June 28, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel after giving a declaration at the Bundestag ahead of the upcoming EU and NATO summits on June 28, 2018, in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Michele Tantussi via Getty Images

President Trump’s Monday morning tweets confirm that he’s going into this week’s NATO summit ready to berate our allies for spending too little on defense.

The real story: While European defense spending has fallen in recent decades, the U.S. has also drastically reduced its own military commitment to NATO since the Cold War. Europe was largely de-militarized in the 1990s, and every NATO member, including the U.S., took advantage of it.

Expert Voices

Bolton tees up a Trump-Putin summit

John Bolton carrying luggage and umbrella
National Security Advisor John Bolton. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

National Security Advisor John Bolton will travel to Moscow later this week to nail down a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The scheduling will be easy; the summit agenda itself, much harder.

The big picture: No issue divides Trump and his advisers more than Russia. He wants to “get along” with Putin; they object to one Russian policy after another. But the Singapore summit showed Trump’s inner circle how to solve this problem: Give the boss a showy, feel-good session he can call a breakthrough and leave the important business for a senior official to handle later.