John Bolton: Biden-Putin meeting ‘premature’

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Former national security adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday that next week’s meeting between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is “premature.”

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” Bolton said that he doesn’t believe anything will be accomplished in the upcoming first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders. 

“I don’t think there’s much for him to gain. There is a considerable downside. I think this meeting is premature,” the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told Mitchell. “I don’t think Biden fully understands what his objectives with Russia are or how to achieve them. There is a long list of potential disagreements and conflicts with Russia. Having a meeting where you just go down a list and check off — we raised Russian election hacking, we raised Russian interference in the Donbas and Ukraine — I don’t think accomplishes much.”

Biden and Putin are set to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16 during the former’s first trip overseas since taking office.

Bolton told Mitchell that former President Trump wasn’t prepared for his meetings with Putin either, saying that Trump felt like he didn’t need to prepare but could simply work from a personal relationship with Putin. 

“I am not going to downplay the importance of person relations in international relations, but they are certainly not the alpha and omega. And that’s the way Trump behaved. So preparation is just not something Trump wanted to do,” said Bolton, who has been highly critical of the former president since leaving his administration in 2019.

Trump’s joint press conference with Putin after their first meeting in 2018 generated some of the worst headlines of his time in office. He refused to condemn Russian election interference and said he took Putin at his word that Moscow had not tried to meddle in the 2016 vote, contrary to the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies.

“They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia,” he said.

“I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump added. “So, I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Tags biden administration Donald Trump Joe Biden John Bolton MSNBC NBC Russia Vladimir Putin

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