Putin meets Obama? Or Obama meets Putin? Who knows and what to expect anyway

What do you expect from the Obama-Putin meeting and for whom is this meeting more important? Read few comments.

Mitchell Orenstein, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, Northeastern University, Associate, Center for European Studies, Harvard University

It is my understanding that the Russian side requested the meeting. Obama has been avoiding Putin for months to isolate him after his invasions of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Russia moved troops and arms to Syria to change the discussion and force the U.S. to speak to him and treat Russia like a world leader rather than a world pariah. Obama took the bait. His administration says America’s allies wanted this to happen, probably Germany. The meeting will be very strange. There is already a dispute about who requested the meeting and what will be discussed. The U.S. wants to see if it can make progress getting Russia out of Ukraine. Russia wants to only talk about Syria and show it can be a great resource for the international community since it is willing to put troops in the ground. Russia however has its own agenda in Syria that is not shared by the U.S., so it is unclear what can be accomplished beyond making sure Russians and Americans don’t shoot at one another in Syria. For the U.S., the security situation in Europe is much more strategically important though the Syria situation is of course more tragic and a current emergency. I hope and trust that the U.S. administration does not lose sight of this as Putin seeks to distract everyone with his aggressive actions on multiple fronts.


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