President Donald Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House according to the Russian Kremlin. The invitation was extended during a phone call last month in which the President congratulated Putin on his reelection victory.
The Kremlin, however, in light of a recent diplomatic row between that country and nearly two dozen Western nations has indicated uncertainty on when, or if, such a meeting would take place. Certain issues need to be resolved first, Yury Ushakov, a foreign policy aide to Vladimir Putin said, but “Trump [has] proposed holding a meeting at the White House in Washington.”
“Against the backdrop of these events, it’s difficult to discuss the possibility of holding a summit,” Ushakov said. But he hopes that “one day, at one time or another, we can arrive at the start of a serious and constructive dialogue.”
Ushakov was alluding to the decision by twenty-seven Western nations, including the U.S. and Canada, to expel Russian diplomats over the alleged poisoning of a Russian ex-patriot and his daughter now living in Salisbury, England, about ninety miles southwest of London. Authorities determined the two were suffering from exposure to a nerve agent. That nerve agent, Novichok, is a military grade substance developed in the Soviet Union during the 1970s.
Sixty-six-year-old Sergey Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia have remained hospitalized since March 4. Skripal’s condition is listed as critical but stable condition, while Yulia’s condition is said to be “improving rapidly.” She is no longer listed in critical condition and is said to be conscious and talking, authorities say.
Skripal is a former Russian intelligence officer convicted of spying for Britain in 2006. He was released in 2010 as part of a spy swap between the nations and had since been granted British citizenship.
Russia has vehemently denied any involvement in the poisoning and has suggesting that the U.K. may have poisoned Skripal in order to further isolate Russia. Skripal is “a perfect victim” Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzia said, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakhrova said last week that “London and Washington are the beneficiaries of this provocation.”
“For the first time ever, a precedent [arises] in international relations of a collective act of punishment of a country without proving any guilt on its part,” Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich, who represents Russia at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said today. “This is a large-scale provocation.”
The White House confirms the invitation was extended during the March 20 phone call and had no further details to communicate. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement today, “As the President himself confirmed on March 20, hours after his last call with President Putin, the two had discussed a bilateral meeting in the ‘not-too-distant future’ at a number of potential venues, including the White House. We have nothing further to add at this time.”