President Donald Trump said he is considering attending a parade in Russia next May, at the invite of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But he’s well aware the event will take place in the middle of the presidential campaign season.
“I was invited. I am thinking about it. It’s right in the middle of our campaign season, but I am thinking – I would certainly think about it,” Trump said.
“President Putin invited me … It’s a very big deal, celebrating the end of the war … so I appreciate the invitation,” he added. “I would love to go If I could.”
The Victory Day Parade is widely seen as a celebration of Russian military power on the anniversary of the victory of allied nations over Nazi Germany in World War II. It takes place in early May in Moscow.
The last time an American president visited Russia was in 2013, when then-President Barack Obama took part in the G20 economic summit in St. Petersburg. Former President George W. Bush attended the parade, which marked the 60th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, in 2005.
The May 2020 parade will mark the 75th anniversary. In 1995, then-President Bill Clinton went to Russia to attend V-Day celebrations. Protesting Russia’s use of force in Chechnya, Clinton and other world leaders boycotted a military parade in Moscow. Later, he attended the Red Square Parade, which did not feature military hardware at the time.
Trump and Putin last were seen together during the G20 in Osaka, Japan, in June 2019. Putin extended the invitation to the May Day Parade during the G20.
At the G20, Trump called Putin a “great guy” and a “terrific person.”
“He is a great guy. I think we had a really good meeting. I think he is a good person, we started discussing trade. I think we should have trade between Russia and USA, two great countries. We had a great meeting yesterday. He is a terrific person,” Trump had said.
Trump’s potential Russia visit comes on the heels of two major US moves seen by some as potential bolsters of Russia’s foreign policy agenda.
The US decision to have American troops exit northern Syria, leaving a power vacuum in the region, has led the way for more Russian forces to enter the area.
Trump has welcomed Russia’s actions in the region, saying the country’s proximity to Syria makes it a more relevant military force to combat ISIS.
The administration’s alleged dangling of foreign aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigating the 2016 election and the Bidens – the basis of an impeachment inquiry – has also been seen by some as a move which could empower Russian aggression in Ukraine.
A sharp and sometimes bitter disagreement also broke out between Trump and several G7 leaders over whether to allow Russia back into their club during the group’s August meeting.