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Russian media cheer over Trump and Putin handshake

July 8, 2017

Russia’s pro-Kremlin media reacted triumphantly on Saturday to the first handshake and lengthy talks between President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump at the G20 meeting in Hamburg.

The popular tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda headlined its front page “Putin and Trump found a way to peace in Syria and Ukraine” and devoted two pages to analysis of the leaders’ public handshake.

“Look at Putin’s thumb. He is controlling the situation, setting its tone,” the paper wrote, calling this “the handshake that the whole world was really waiting for.”

Russian state television channel Rossiya 24 also hailed what it called “a meeting the whole world had been awaiting for long months.”

Business daily Kommersant wrote that the leaders’ talks “overshadowed the main agenda of the event.”

The Moskovsky Komsomolets tabloid, which is sometimes critical of the Kremlin, compared the meeting to the historic joining of Soviet and American forces in Germany in April 1945, when US and Russian soldiers shook hands on the bridge of the River Elbe.

It headlined its story “Meeting on the Elbe”, the river that flows through Hamburg.

Late Friday, the head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian senate, Konstantin Kosachev, hailed the meeting as “a breakthrough in some sense. Definitely in the psychological sense, possibly in practical relations,” speaking to Interfax news agency.

Diplomatic sources quoted by Kommersant said a meeting was now being discussed between Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon in Saint Petersburg in the second half of the month.

Russia cancelled a meeting between Ryabkov and Shannon in the city last month in the wake of Washington’s decision to reinforce sanctions over Moscow’s interference in Ukraine and its occupation of Crimea.

Franz Klintsevich, deputy chairman of the senate’s defence commission, said the meeting “slightly opened the tightly blocked door of Russian and American relations”, in a statement quoted by Interfax.

He said the meeting answered “all the questions over the personal compatibility of the leaders.”

Pro-Kremlin media and commentators also suggested that the demonstrative friendliness between Putin and Trump was a blow for the US leader’s opponents at home.

NTV television reported that after the leaders smiled at each other “the liberal part of the US internet immediately exploded in outrage.”

Russian senator Alexei Pushkov wrote on Twitter that “the Neocons are furious. Trump accepted Putin’s words about Russia’s non-interference in the US elections. He doesn’t want to be stuck in a position of anti-Russian hysteria.”

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.