Kremlin says no Putin-Trump Arctic Summit meeting is planned

On Thursday Kremlin spokesman shot down a suggestion from Finnish Pres. Sauli Niinisto that a Trump-Putin meeting might come at an Arctic heads-of-state summit.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - October 11, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018.(Kevin Lamarque / Reuters File Photo)

The are currently no plans for a proposed second meeting between U.S President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at an Arctic summit in Finland, according to the Kremlin.

While Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö on Wednesday said to the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that “things have progressed to the better” regarding a possible Arctic Summit next year, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on Thursday that a possible meeting between the American and Russian presidents in Finland “is not true.” Peskov is quoted by TASS news agency.

The statement from Peskov contradicts earlier views from Moscow. Last spring, before this summer’s Helsinki meeting, Pres. Putin said “Finland, in my view, is a very convenient country,” when commenting on Finnish President Sauli Niinistö’s suggestion of convening of an Arctic Summit.

Since the idea was first raised by former Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen in 2014, Finland has eyed a summit bringing together the state leaders from the eight Arctic nations during its chairmanship of the Arctic Council. That chairmanship ends in May 2019.

Helsingin Sanomat reports that two dates for such a summit are possible, either February 14 (Valentine’s Day), or a date in May. The newspaper says a possible participation by Pres. Trump could be announced after the midterms elections on November 6.

Pres. Niinistö does not comment on when a U.S. decision whether to participate in such a summit might be taken, but says he has noticed that the U.S. interest in such meeting has increased.

In the Arctic Council’s 20-year history there has never been a summit with the heads of states participating. Bi-annually, Arctic Council meetings are organized with the foreign ministers of United States, Russia, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark.

The Location of the Arctic Council ministerial meeting, or an Arctic Summit, has not yet been announced. If it were held in Lapland, locations such as Rovaniemi, Saariselkä, Levi or Inari could be alternatives which all have airports close by. Another possibility — although not within the Arctic Circle — is Helsinki, where Trump and Putin met this summer.

Pres. Niinistö has previously said such an Arctic Summit should focus on environmental challenges, such as climate changes and black carbon.

On Thursday, the environment ministers of the eight Arctic nations are meeting in Rovaniemi, northern Finland. Main topics on the agenda are climate changes, biodiversity and pollution prevention.