Trump said he wouldn't meet with Putin at the G-20 summit, but the Russian government asserted it would speak with Trump when Putin sees fit.
Russia made it clear to the world that with Trump in the American presidency they are in a position of dominance, and are dismissive of Trump's stature.
Trump claimed that he intended to skip a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the G-20 meeting in Argentina. The statement was the latest in a series of announcements about the summit, which has seen Trump go back and forth on whether he will speak to Russia.
Despite Trump's announcement, the Kremlin said Putin would have a brief, impromptu meeting with Trump at the summit.
Reacting to the Kremlin statement, a White House official told reporters traveling with Trump that "there is no scheduled pull aside."
But since Trump has assumed the presidency, repeated assurances from him and his team that Trump is the one in charge of the relationship have collapsed under Russian pressure.
Just a few months ago, Trump gave America a black eye by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Putin, and denigrating findings from American law enforcement that Russia interfered in the presidential election.
When he first met with Putin, the Russian dominated Trump, and in return Trump shook his hand and warmly slapped him on the back.
Trump cited the recent clash between Russia and Ukraine for cancelling the G-20 meeting. But Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) pointed out in a television interview that Russia's aggression was well-known back when Trump had declared he would meet with the autocrat. "This president showed no inclination to step away from the meeting with Putin," Warner said.
The Russian government publicly scoffed at Trump's excuse. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told state media, "I think the true reason is rooted in the domestic political situation in the United States, which is crucial for decision-making."
Her statement appeared to refer to the news that Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, had struck a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller. Cohen has reportedly spent over 70 hours interviewing with Mueller's team, telling them about Trump's exploits — including his ties to Russia.
The origin of the on-again, off-again G-20 meeting has its roots in Russian dominance of Trump as well. National security adviser John Bolton first said meetings with Putin would be postponed until 2019, due to the ongoing investigations of Russian interference.
But then when Putin said he wanted to meet with Trump before the end of the year, the administration quickly buckled to Russia.
Trump wants the world to believe he has the upper hand when dealing with Putin and Russia. But it has repeatedly been made clear to the international community, and especially to Americans, that Putin has the upper hand and Trump does what he is told.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.