President Donald Trump’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Helsinki received some sharp criticism from the mainstream European media. Following Monday’s summit, newspapers and news outlets on this side of the Atlantic made hay about the critical remarks coming from Arizona Republican senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and former CIA Director John Brennan.

“Trump’s behavior [at the summit] was catastrophic,” said the German newspaper Die Welt. “He made too many concessions to Putin. Many Republicans were shocked. And the former CIA chief even spoke of treason,” referring Brennan’s tweet that Trump’s “press conference performance in Helsinki” was “nothing short of treasonous.”

“Will Republicans punish Trump for his performance with Putin?” asked the left-wing British newspaper The Guardian, thereby lamenting that “despite the deep disappointment and shock, leading Republicans lawmakers have so far failed to pledge any concrete action to punish Trump for his conduct next to Putin.”

“Trump’s apparent concessions to Putin over the election controversy drew stinging condemnation from across the political divide,” echoed the French news agency AFP.

“Slew of criticism from Republicans” over Trump’s handling of Helsinki summit reported the German weekly Der Spiegel. Summing up Trump’s Europe visit, Der Spiegel commented:

Trump stayed for a week in Europe and created a big furor. First, he criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel at the NATO summit in Brussels and rebuked the British Prime Minister Theresa May in London. Following the summit in Helsinki, Trump faces criticism from the members of his own party. He has been accused of refraining from making a clear statement against the Russian collusion in the 2016 US election—and thus signalling weakness. [Translation by the author]

The sharpest critique probably came the Germany’s state-run TV network Deutsche Welle.

“Will Donald Trump betray US and EU in Putin talks?” asked Deutsche Welle ahead of the meeting. “Even before the summit in Helsinki, it’s clear that the US president may sacrifice European allies on the altar of his own vanity.”

“How much more Trump must we endure?” lamented the broadcaster after the summit. “The reality TV star-turned president’s recent statements have been difficult to listen to.”

Deutsche Welle capped its day’s coverage with a glowing tribute to Chancellor Angela Merkel on her 64th birthday with a video clip “[l]ooking back at how she steadily became one of the world’s most powerful women.”

In a separate article, The Guardian portrayed the Helsinki summit as the “return to the era in which big powers have self-interests not allies.” The newspaper also complained that Trump had “stir[ed] things up in Britain in order to damage the EU” during his UK visit.

It is “troubling [that] Europe sat on the spectator bench” while the two world leaders met in the Finnish capital, commented the leading German public broadcaster ARD. “One thing is certain: the meeting is a success for both the presidents. Donald Trump can proclaim victory because he succeeded in meeting the Russian President face-to-face, against the wishes of this advisers. Much like friends. Without the establishment, as he likes to tells his voters.”

While the meeting could lead to a slight thaw in US-Russia relationships, it will have no impact on the ongoing EU-Russia hostilities over a range of issues. Trump taking the US out of this equation does weaken Brussels bargaining position.

Moreover, the EU, and particularly Germany, can’t blame Trump for weakening their hand. In the run up to the summit, Merkel’s government tried its best to undermine the US president.

Ahead of the meeting between the two world leaders in Helsinki, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters that “America led by Trump can’t be trusted.” Given Trump’s America First policy, “we need to align ourselves even more closely in Europe,” Maas concluded. With Europe, he obviously means the self-appointed EU commissariat headquartered in Brussels.

Given the multi-billion energy deals Germany is closing with Putin’s regime, Berlin should have little to complain about Helsinki summit.

If the European media reaction is any indicator, the EU establishment has once again been rattled by Trump’s unflinching stances on issues like the trade deficit, Brexit, or NATO spending by allies. In Trump, they are not dealing with a run-of-the-mill career politician; and for some strange reason they just can’t wrap their head around it.

Video: British politician Nigel Farage on Trump-Putin summit

[Cover image via YouTube]


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