Russia’s political and media establishment heralded talks between the Russian and U.S. leaders in Helsinki as a victory for Vladimir Putin in breaking down Western resolve to treat Russia as a pariah.
“The West’s attempts to isolate Russia failed,” read the headline on a report on Monday’s summit meeting in state-run newspaper Rossiisskaya Gazeta.
The praise from Russia’s elite for Putin’s performance at the summit contrasted sharply with the reaction in Washington where U.S. President Donald Trump’s own Republican party accused him of failing to stand up to Putin.
In Moscow, there was a recognition that the summit did not produce any breakthroughs on issues such as Syria, Ukraine or arms control. The Kremlin, in the run-up to the summit, had played down expectations of major progress.
Instead, the focus was on the symbolism of the leader of the world’s biggest superpower sitting down one-on-one with Putin after four years of international isolation triggered by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.