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    Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump before a photo op of the G20 heads, November 30, 2018.

    'Trump Doesn't Have a Clear Strategy as to What He Wants From Russia' – Scholar

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    On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin explained Moscow's position on the Kerch Strait incident to German Chancellor Angela Merkel over a G20 breakfast meeting. Putin said that Ukrainian Navy boats had illegally crossed into Russian waters last week and drew a diagram of the violation. The leaders agreed to hold more talks on the dispute.

    Sputnik discussed Putin-Merkel's meeting and the G20 summit in general with Dr. Theofanis Exadaktylos — Senior Lecturer in European Politics in the University of Surrey.
    Dr. Theofanis Exadaktylos first of all noted that another important issue "that brings Russia and Germany together" is the issue of energy and despite Europe wanting to diversify its energy supplies they can't seem to agree:

    "Europe for many decades now has been talking about the idea of diversification of energy sources coming into Europe, the problem here is there is no agreement between the European partners as to what type of mix should be, and this is one of the reasons why the issue is so politicized simply because the EU itself does not agree on the matter."

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    The US President, Donald Trump, has criticized Germany as relying to much on Russian gas supplies before, but Dr. Exadaktylos notes that "what the United States are obviously trying to do, and this has to do, also with President Trump's position in this G20, is to build an interesting climate of both cooperation and conflict. And I think this is the key here."

    Talking about Russia and US relations and the cancelled G20 meeting between President Trump and President Putin, Dr. Exadaktylos explained that despite Trump trying to approach Putin at the start of his presidency, the US leader simply doesn't have a clear policy towards Moscow:

    "I think that Mr. Trump does not have a very clear strategy as to what he wants out of this relationship with Russia, so I think he doesn't really know what the outcome of this rapprochement will be between the United States and Russia, and I think more frequently then not President Trump is sort of creating a new form of conflict without any particular reason. We saw him trying to approach different leaders around the world simply because he thought that things in foreign policy are as simple as meeting someone, but what he does with those meetings and what he does with those kinds of approaches is a different story."

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    The expert also added that "in essence, President Trump, I don't think he's ready as a leader to be able to cooperate with someone like Mr. Putin. I think Mr. Putin has much more clear objectives out of his relationship with United States than what President Trump has with Russia."

    After the G20 wrapped up on Saturday, the US leader held a post-summit meeting in Buenos Aires with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. The sides have reportedly agreed to halt new trade tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks, while Trump also agreed not to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on 1 January as he initially planned.

    Dr. Exadaktylos said he was not sure that an deal between the two sides will last:

    "I'm not too optimistic that an agreement as such will be found that will last for the future, so I think that we will see this kind of issue between the United States and China come up again and again," the expert concluded.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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