New line on Russia opens up an unprecedented chasm between London and Washington

For those hoping the US president would refrain from making unwarranted concessions to Vladimir Putin, the omens were not good. Before his departure for Europe, Trump predicted the Putin conversation was likely to be easier than his discussions with his Nato allies and Theresa May.

He tweeted hours before the meeting that relations between the US and Russia were so poor because of American foolishness and stupidity, thus exonerating Putin for much of his behaviour in the past decade. In so doing Trump went into the Helsinki conference chamber not quite naked, but at least pleading guilty on his country’s behalf.

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