FROM Alec Luhn
The summit within the summit After warm greetings in public, Presidents Trump and Putin were behind closed doors for more than two hours today in Hamburg, Germany. For the moment, their meeting has overshadowed the larger G-20 summit, as protesters stormed local police in the streets of the city. Mr. Trump’s aides said he had “no agenda,” but Secretary of State Tillerson says he began with Russia’s meddling in America’s election. Putin denied it. With US-Russian relations at their lowest point in decades, is there any chance of a rapprochement? Is that in America’s interests?
Are Russian protests a threat to Putin? Riot police detain demonstrators during an anti-corruption protest organised by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, on Tverskaya Street in central Moscow, Russia, June 12, 2017 Photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters This could have been one of Russia's most extensive days of political protest in recent history. Police in 200 cities were out in force and at least 700 have been arrested so far. Demonstrators also had to share the streets with people colorfully dressed in historical costumes for a Russian holiday. We hear more from the Guardian 's Alec Luhn, who was covering today's protests and was arrested at demonstrations earlier this March, and from Andrew Weiss, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment where he oversees the Russia and Eurasia Program.
The Russia reaction to Trump leaks Now that the Oval Office conversation between President Trump and Russian officials is the subject of global speculation, let's hear how it is playing out in Russia. The Washington press corps is abuzz with reports that Trump shared classified information with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Is it even a story in Moscow? We ask Alec Luhn, who's based in Moscow for the Guardian.
Putin Holds Forth on Marathon Call-In Show Despite economic recession, President Vladimir Putin has 80% approval in Russia. Today, he held the annual, four-hour televised call-in that's designed to keep it that way. Alec Luhn writes from Moscow for the Guardian newspaper and the Nation magazine.
Russia's Currency Crisis The price of oil and economic sanctions have panicky Russian consumers rushing to buy whatever they can as the ruble loses its value, but at today's three-hour, end-of-the-year news conference, Vladimir Putin said , not to worry: the crisis will only last a couple of years. He blamed the US and Europe, said the Russian bear won't be chained up -- saying he was referring to nuclear weapons. We look at what might be in store for Ukraine and at the role of Saudi Arabia in Russia's economic decline.
Ukraine's Future and Russian Politics Despite last week's plan to "de-escalate" the crisis, Ukraine and Russia are now exchanging accusations over Saturday's deadly shootings near the Eastern city of Sloviansk. Russia says Ukraine has failed to crack down on "extremists" as promised last week in Geneva. Ukraine says people were killed in a "crude provocation" staged for Russian TV. Vice President Biden has arrived in Kiev for talks with Ukraine's interim government starting tomorrow, while the Obama White House decides whether to escalate economic sanctions. Would they make any difference in the short term? Does Vladimir Putin want to invade Ukraine, or will continued destabilization suit his purposes? His domestic approval rating is 80% based on nationalism and conservative values. Is that more important than the economy in the short term?
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
White House budget proposal slashes and burns President Trump's first budget request is considered dead on arrival in Congress — a familiar development in Capitol Hill. We hear what it reveals about the priorities of the new administration. What's likely to die… and what might survive?
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.