July 15, 2018 12:05 AM NPT
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump will hold their first official summit in Helsinki on June 16, but no formal agenda has been announced. Topics of discussion could include arms control, Ukraine and the Crimea, the Syrian civil war and military build-ups in central Europe. Russia and the United States have repeatedly accused each other of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which eliminates nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. Russia has violated the INF Treaty by deploying nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to its Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea. Both Russia and the U.S. have yet to begin discussions on what to do when the 2011 New Strategic
Arms Reduction Treaty (New Start) expires in 2021. NATO and Russia have built up deployments of troops and weapons in Poland, the Baltic states, Kaliningrad and Crimea. Geopolitical intelligence platform Stratfor has reported that the Polish and U.S. governments are in talks about establishing a permanent U.S. military base in Poland -- should that materialize, Belarus has warned that it would consider hosting a new Russian air base on its territory. President Trump has hinted that he is willing to recognize Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. When asked by reporters in June whether the United States would accept Crimea as part of Russia, Trump said: “We’re going to have to see.” The Crimea, however, is not Trump’s to give away. According to international law, Crimea is Ukrainian. The Kremlin, for its part, wants Trump to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, recognise that Bashar al-Assad will stay in power, and permit
Russia to keep its military base at Tartus on the Mediterranean.