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Putin and Trump in Helsinki last year. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
In a matter of hours, while most of us in the U.S. are asleep, President Trump will sit down with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Osaka, Japan.
Between the lines: Trump, who has said he hopes to improve relations with Russia now that the Mueller investigation is over, told reporters before setting off that what he says to Putin is "none of your business." The ghost of their disastrous press conference last year in Helsinki still lingers.
From the interview...
Putin describes Trump as a “talented person” who “saw changes in American society and took advantage.”
On immigration, Putin says Trump’s approach “could be going too far,” but he “had to do something.” He adds that, by contrast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, made a “cardinal mistake" by allowing in 1 million Syrian refugees.
Asked whether he’s putting “too many eggs” into the China basket, Putin says: “we have enough eggs, but there are not that many baskets where these eggs can be placed.”
On Syria, Putin says Russia has had a “positive return," including “very good, business-like” relations with all the key players, including Iran and Turkey.
On Venezuela, he denies Russia is playing a key role, but dismisses opposition leader Juan Guaidó's claim to the presidency, which rests on the idea that Russian ally Nicolás Maduro was not legitimately elected.
What to watch: Putin faces constitutional term limits in 2024. He says he's been thinking about his succession plan "since 2000," when he took power.
POTUS arrives in a rainy Osaka. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images
The centerpiece of this year’s summit is a bilateral meeting on Saturday between President Trump and China’s Xi Jinping.
Trump already met with Australian PM Scott Morrison.
Up on Friday are...
And on Saturday...
What to watch: There are “two Trump foreign policies,” says Tom Wright of Brookings, noting that “official” U.S. policy often “exists in tension” with the president. At the G-20, Trump will be “front and center.”
Zelensky holds a press conference today. Photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s TV-star-turned president, has now been in office for nearly ten weeks.
Peter Wagner, head of the European Commission’s Support Group for Ukraine, has been in several meetings with him. He tells me Zelensky is “saying the right things” and connects easily with people, but has a “huge learning curve.”
Behind the scenes: In meetings, Wagner says, Zelensky comes across as well-briefed, and makes an effort not to appear naive. “This is a smart person. You can see that this man, even if it was a while ago, studied law,” he says.
The bottom line: “Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s not forget, this is not Trump or Macron, who have been in the system, or around, or playing with it for decades,” Wagner says. Zelensky is just 41, and politics is entirely new to him.
Lula last April, before announcing he'd comply with an arrest warrant. Photo: Victor Moriyama/Getty Images
Brazil's supreme court has rejected a motion that would have freed Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and delayed its decision on the former president's appeal.
Why it matters: Lula's corruption convictions, which kept him out of October's presidential election despite his lead in the polls, are under growing scrutiny. I asked Martin Aguirre, editor-in-chief of Uruguay's El Pais newspaper, to help break it down:
Flashback: "Lula was the brain behind the wave of left-wing governments that ruled Latin America for over a decade," says Aguirre.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Protesters in Hong Kong are keeping the pressure on their leaders over a controversial extradition bill that has been suspended, but not withdrawn entirely.
The big picture: The extradition bill is the latest step blurring the lines of the “One Country, Two Systems” structure that governs relations between Hong Kong and mainland China.
Alexiy Breus, who was at work at Chernobyl during the explosion, in the abandoned city of Pripyat. Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images
As I've mentioned in this newsletter before, I'm a big fan of HBO's "Chernobyl" (and the corresponding podcast). So when creator Craig Mazin came to the Wilson Center in D.C. last night, I went along.
Mazin said he was drawn to Chernobyl because unlike other major disasters — the Titanic, for example — most people don't know why it happened.
As for the backlash in Russia, Mazin said it only became a problem once the show caught on with Russian audiences.
What's next: Mazin said his next project is set "closer to home, closer to now” but continues on the theme of “things we think we know, but we don’t."
Rainbow, bridge. Recent rains have been welcome in Sydney, which had faced a drought. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
"Israel is a country in the Middle East. Israel is part of this heritage of this whole region historically. So the Jewish people have a place amongst us."— Bahrain's foreign minister in a groundbreaking interview with Axios contributor Barak Ravid
Thanks for stopping by. Be nice to Shane while I'm gone.