The Handshake and Meeting the World has Been Anxiously Awaiting Takes Place

President Trump wasted no time in making good on his earlier tweet asking Russian President Putin directly about Russian interference in the U.S. election during a meeting that lasted two hours and 16 minutes, a meeting billed as a sidebar to the G20 in Hamburg. Certainly, a meeting more important in the eyes of the world than the G20 in its entirety.

The much touted and hotly-anticipated meeting was scheduled to last for just 30 minutes, but ran well over time. In attendance during the meeting between the two prominent world leaders was U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said that the two Presidents had a “positive chemistry” and once they started talking “neither one of them wanted to stop”. In fact, Tillerson noted that they appeared to get along so well that Trump’s aides sent Melania Trump into the meeting to “see if she could get us out of there.” “Clearly she failed,” he joked.

Secretary Tillerson further stated that the President Trump opened the meeting “by raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election.” As was apparent earlier in the day, that morning in response to a reporter’s question on Thursday, President Trump tweeted;

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump  I look forward to all meetings today with world leaders, including my meeting with Vladimir Putin. Much to discuss. #G20Summit #USA


Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump  Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!

According to press feeds and public responses from the White House communications team, President’s Trump and Putin had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject. President Trump pressed Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement in the U.S. Election. Accordingly, the two leaders agreed the issue was a “substantial hindrance” in terms of being able to move the relationship forwards and have agreed to work on commitments of “non-interference” with the U.S. and other countries.

On the topic of Syria, the two leaders concurred on and agreed to a ceasefire in southwest Syria that is due to take effect on Sunday. They also discussed terrorism, cybersecurity and the Ukraine, Tillerson said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said many issues had “piled up” between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavorov who had previously also met with Secretary of State Tillerson indicated that the talks were “very constructive” and focused on a number of issues. He pointed out that as part of the cease-fire deal, the nations will set-up a monitoring center in Jordan, to provide an opportunity for the U.S., Russia and coalition countries to be able to better communicate and coordinate on the Syrian crisis. The discussion took place behind closed doors, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as well as two translators present.

As a result, of the extended meeting meant that Putin had to delay his talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and in turn impacted a series of other events and the evenings scheduled social affairs of the G20.

This critical important meeting comes at a tense point between the two countries who are and have been at odds over Syria, Ukraine and under the cloud over election meddling. President Trump has said he would like to have a “great relationship” with Russia.  Before today’s meeting, President Trump said he looked forward to “discussing various things” with President Putin. After the meeting he said that “We’ve had some very good talks. Further noting that; “We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the U.S. and for everybody concerned. Further, expounding, President Trump said he thought “a lot of positive things” could come from the meeting.”

In his reaction and response to the meeting with President Trump, Putin said he was “delighted to meet” the U.S. leader after having spoken on the phone several times over the last several months since Mr. Trump took office. Mr. Putin further explained that; “Naturally, telephone conversations are never enough if we want to find solutions to pressing issues on the bilateral agenda and the most sensitive, acute issues on the international agenda.”

Secretary Tillerson provided a readout of the meeting for reporters. He said that despite Mr. Putin’s denial on interference, the Russia president agreed to work on a commitment for “noninterference” with U.S. affairs and to pursue larger agreements on cybersecurity issues. Tillerson said there was a general agreement that the Russian interference issue “is a substantial hindrance to us to move the U.S.-Russia relationship forward and agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of noninterference in affairs of United States and our democratic process as well as other countries.”

On cybersecurity, Mr. Tillerson said the two countries were putting together a working group to hammer out an agreement. Tillerson said; “We agreed to set up a working group to begin to explore this framework agreement around this cyber issue,” and “It’ll be out of the State Department and the national security adviser’s office.”

Prior to the much anticipated first sit-down meeting between the pair came after a brief encounter earlier in the day when they shook hands behind the scenes. In a much acclaimed and touted photos and media footage shared by German officials, showed Trump approach Putin and hold out his hand for a shake, while clasping his arm. Seconds later President Trump was also seen patting Putin on the back while European Union leaders Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk watch on.

From the diplomatic media analysis and from those who observe and analyze the manners and body language of diplomats and heads of state noted; President Trump won the initial round of handshake diplomacy. Pointing to the fact that President Trump’s open jacket and full view of his tie along with his hand on Putin’s back had Trump looking like the confident leader. In reaction to President Putin it was noted that Putin looked like a hanger-on that finally got some attention, thanks to Trump. Historically, it was compared to very much like President Ronald Reagan’s first meeting with Russian President Mikhail Gorbahev for the first time in eight-years, meeting in Geneva. However, the meeting boded well for the future, as the two men engaged in long, personal talks and seemed to develop a sincere and close relationship. Similarly, that meeting came as somewhat of a surprise considering Reagan’s, like Trump’s often incendiary rhetoric concerning Communism and Russia’s actions in the Ukraine and Syria. Likewise to that of Trump, it was in keeping with the Reagan’s often stated desire to bring about peaceful relations with Moscow and relations between the two nations.

In the end, despite positive and a favorable meeting President Trump offered no details about what specific issues he and the Russian leader had discussed, describing them only as “various things.” Putin was similarly vague, telling reporters through a translator that they were discussing international problems and bilateral issues. Still, Putin described the fact that they were meeting as a positive sign in it, and he said he hoped the meeting would “yield positive results.”

The sidebar meeting at the G20 between Trump and Putin comes during a host of hot-button issues that have made for fractious international relations including the North Korean missile crisis, the war in Syria and of course the on-going allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election made ever more inflammatory by the Democrats, the political-left and U.S. the mainstream media. As President Trump made a point of in both his comments in Warsaw earlier this week and his Twitter feeds, he blamed President Obama and the Obama administration for not acting on the intelligence information they since summer 2016 that Russia was in the process of meddling and trying to influence the November 2016 U.S. Election. President Trump has used the opportunity to expand on the fact that both the Democrat National Committee and the Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Chairman John Podesta both refused to turn over their computers and servers to the FBI and CIA to review and analyze them for their claims that the Russians hacked both organizations computer. Neither of the two entities provided reasons to justify their complaints and claims that the Russians in fact did hack their private computers. Hence the suspicions and concerns by the Trump administration that the hacking actually occurred.

As tradition has it, earlier on Friday morning the all of the G20 leaders posed for the so-called “family photograph” with President Trump chatting amiably with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull while walking into the event. Once inside the room, where the leaders met to discuss trade and growth strategies, he was seen chatting to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Macron. True to form, President Trump also unwittingly provided a moment of comedy when Chancellor Merkel suggested the leaders turn for a photograph for the press. Trump, apparently engrossed in his notes, ignored the suggestion leaving him the only one with his back to the media, before turning around and laughing, for a retake.

Prior to the G20 meeting, political observers in Washington were worried about the high stakes encounter given Trump’s propensity for speaking off the cuff. The last time he met with a Russian official in Washington he was alleged to have disclosed “code word” Israeli intelligence. Of course, totally false and an unsubstantiated and unproven rumor, turned into notorious “fake news”. Many on the political-left and Establishment Republicans and Neocons demand Trump to go for the throat regardless. President Trump, despite their rhetoric to be confrontational, understood the realistic approach to remain diplomatically tough, resolute, and to demonstrate steadfast resolve, knowing full well the strategy of talking and dealing from a position of strength – which obviously was at play in the meeting with Russia President Putin. President Trump and Secretary Tillerson understand the game, certainly much better than their predecessor who failed every step of the way and in each and every case handed Putin everything he wanted or negotiated for. In fact, it was too easy for Putin to get what he wanted from Obama, Clinton, and Kerry because they caved. It in reality was given to him to spite the U.S. In the case of President Trump and Secretary Tillerson, they know how to walk the diplomatic tightrope, of not wanting to appear soft on Russia, while at the same time showing the charisma and confidence to build a rapport with allies, friends and foes. In the final analysis, using those tactics as methods of diplomacy and statescraft ever so subtly, again from dealing from a position of strength worked to the U.S. advantage in the meeting by Trump and Tillerson.

Of course, those in the mainstream media are ever and always ready to find fault with Donald Trump, made-up commentary in their reporting prior to and following the meeting, claiming that Putin’s mastery of international affairs could make Trump a target for manipulation and intimidation. They even noted that the former KGB spy has a reputation for strong-arming his counterparts, including once bringing his dog to a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after having been briefed that she was afraid of dogs. Again, the foolish and despicable length the mainstream media will go to try and create a phony narrative to distract from any favorable reporting of President Trump and the U.S.

And of course, in an effort to both defend the Obama legacy and criticize President Trump, Obama’s former Ambassador to the Ukraine Steven Pifer said in the lead up to the meeting there was a “fair amount of nervousness” about how it would be managed as he asininely stated; “because they see a lot of potential risks.” At the same time, other G20 leaders were also braced for tough talks with Trump after his “America First” approach to trade and globalization, and Trump’s initial critical tough stance on NATO. Which in the end he was 100% correct. The reality being the political-left, socialists, and Communists of Europe and in the U.S., the political-left  were really in an all-out campaign to end NATO and it was President Trump who resurrected and saved NATO the most successful alliance in world history. Mr. Trump’s strident, tough, and orchestrated words and effort to put the onus on NATO member countries was what was needed. Similarly, there are a number of, if not all the G20 member nations and their leaders who are beginning to realize that President Trump is a serious and steadfast leader who is in fact serious about the left’s dubious and diabolical plans for the world, disguised and hidden in the fake narratives of Globalization, unrealistic trade deals, and Climate Change all designed to redistribute the wealth of the world to a few in order to dominate and provide control to a world-wide Socialist regime.

With regard to the real realities of the world, the summit brought together Chinese President Xi Jinping with President’s Trump and Putin amid continued nuclear testing in North Korea, as well as Turkish and Saudi Arabian leaders during the deepening crisis in the Persian Gulf over isolation of Qatar, and provided the opportunity for follow-up amongst leaders who met with President Trump in his previous trips to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe in May of this year.

The Political-left’s continued insistence that Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the Democrats’ continued and on-going unsubstantiated allegations of the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia unfortunately overshadowed the meeting and the other critical issues as noted such as the Syria civil war and the disputed Russian annexation of Crimea.

Despite the left-wing nothing but negative criticism of anything President Trump says regardless of how correct he is or does, as is coming out of every mainstream media outlet as I write this article. As SecState Tillerson stated; “The meeting was very constructive. The two leaders I would say connected very quickly. There was a very clear positive chemistry between the two,” he said. “I’ve had many, many meetings with Mr. Putin before; there was not a lot of re-litigating of the past. There are a lot of things in the past that both of us are unhappy about. When we’re unhappy they’re unhappy.”

While some are claiming that the Trump and Putin meeting was perfectly staged to ensure that for their first meeting both men could get what they needed out of it, politically so to speak. Anyone who has been involved in high level diplomatic meetings between heads of state, that are extensive advanced meetings prior conducted by senior staff officials on both side to make sure there are no embarrassing situations and missteps in agendas.  Until the advent of Donald Trump and even Rex Tillerson, both successful experienced, and astute businessmen. In the business world things tend to be a tad different.

So goes the “Art of the deal” — there are many who believed that President Trump went into the meeting believing it was still possible to strike a deal or at least the preliminary efforts leading to a number of arrangements with Russia on a number of issues. We now have a better understanding of what that means: as Secretary of State Tillerson had said, they spent a good amount of the meeting discussing a solution to the Syrian conflict, and in the end we saw somewhat of a gift-wrapped victory, with the post-meeting announcement of a ceasefire. Secretary Tillerson held out the possibility of larger cooperation — which should be understood as possibly a deal that would encompass fighting ISIS together as well as the resolving of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which President Trump has been extremely critical.  Without tipping or showing any hand, perhaps what arrangements were made with Poland and the U.S. in recent months by the Trump administration could come into play with the Ukraine and Russia.

The most important aspect that must be realized is that Vladimir Putin needs Donald Trump and the U.S. more than anything else. Certainly more than the U.S. needs Russia.  While Russia is a first world country militarily, economically, it’s third world. Russia’s economy is half that of Germany or France. President Trump understands Russia’s vulnerabilities and shortfalls, particularly that Russia’s critical and nearly single economic power asset is energy sales. As we witnessed this week, one of the reasons Trump has the edge is that he and his national security and economic team masterfully transferred Poland’s dependence on Russia for its LNG to the U.S., putting Putin on notice that the U.S. can circumvent the rest of Europe’s energy dependence to the U.S. An option that would be devastating, further reducing the size of Russia’s economy and influence in Europe and elsewhere. It is a slope Putin does not want to be on. As I noted multiple times, Donald Trump when it comes to negotiating, is deliberate, always ensuring he is dealing from a position of power and strength, not intentional appeasement, acquiescence, or consolation as his predecessor did, albeit part of his diabolical political plan to disengage the U.S. from its leadership position in the world.

Going forward, President’s Trump and Putin have not scheduled another get-together, but Tillerson said much progress as could be expected could be made in the two presidents’ first sit-down. We can expect the likelihood of an invite by President Trump to the White House in the coming months, as well as more than likely the reciprocation by President Putin for Trump to visit Moscow. This is was the first meeting, most importantly a critical conversation for the two leaders to get to know each other, and to perhaps move past paradigms established by the former political elites operating off of Globalist false-narrative driven political agendas, not real life world realities. We shall see …

Jim Waurishuk is a retired USAF Colonel, serving nearly 30-years as a career senior intelligence and political-military affairs officer and special mission intelligence officer with expertise in strategic intelligence, international strategic studies and policy, and asymmetric warfare. He served combat and combat-support tours in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as on numerous special operations and special mission intelligence contingencies in Central America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. He served as a special mission intelligence officer assigned to multiple Joint Special Operations units, and with the CIA’s Asymmetric Warfare Task Force, as well as in international and foreign advisory positions. He served as Deputy Director for Intelligence for U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) during the peak years of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Global War on Terrorism. He is a former White House National Security Council staffer and a former Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C. He served as a senior advisor to the Commander U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and is Vice President of the Special Ops-OPSEC -- which provides strategic and operational security analysis and assessments to governmental and private entities, as well as media organizations on national security issues, policy, and processes. He currently provides advisory and consulting services on national security, international strategic policy, and strategy assessments for the U.S. and foreign private sector and governments entities, media groups and outlets, and to political groups, forums, and political candidates. He is an author and writer providing regular commentary and opinion to national and local TV, radio networks, and for both print and online publications, as well as speaking engagements to business, political, civic and private groups on national security matters – focusing on international strategic policy and engagement, and strategic intelligence, and subject matter expertise on special mission intelligence and operations, counter-terrorism, and asymmetric warfare and conflict.