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U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a one-on-one-meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Why Finland’s Hosting of the Trump-Putin Summit Is More Than Just Cold War Nostalgia

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Finnish government took a significant gamble when it agreed to host today’s Helsinki summit between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. The Russian president’s meeting with his American counterpart threw U.S. and European analysts into a panic. Even relatively optimistic commentators predicted that the event would be a waste of time. Pessimists feared Putin would use it to extract major concessions from Trump on Syria or Ukraine. Finland has risked being associated with a debacle over which, despite being a good host, it has no substantive control. Why has it done so?

Many observers have assumed that the Finns simply hosted the summit out of habit. Western and Soviet-bloc diplomats regularly met in Helsinki during the Cold War. The 1975 “Helsinki Final Act,” a wide-ranging East-West agreement on security and human rights in Europe, helped pave the way for the slow decline of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellite states. ...

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