Mr. Putin’s remarks reaffirmed what have long been articles of faith for Russia’s political elite: that Mr. Trump is eager to deliver on his campaign promise to “get along with Russia” and that he has only been held back by the machinations of his political enemies and a “deep state” cabal of spies, Obama-era holdovers and Russia-fearing Cold Warriors.
The summit meeting in Helsinki, however, seems to have raised the Kremlin’s hopes that Mr. Trump will stand by his repeated pledges to improve relations with Moscow, despite a series of tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats and a raft of new sanctions imposed on Russia since Mr. Trump took office.
“It is a great virtue of President Trump that he seeks to keep his promises, first of all those given to voters,” Mr. Putin said. “As for our meetings, they are useful, I think.”
Mr. Trump stirred fury among his opponents and also among some Republican lawmakers for suggesting in Helsinki that he trusted Mr. Putin’s denials of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election over the conclusions of his own intelligence community.
In what some interpreted as an act of defiance toward his critics, Mr. Trump revealed unexpectedly that he planned to invite Mr. Putin to Washington for a follow-up meeting in the fall. But less than a week later, the White House said it had postponed the plan, and that Mr. Putin would not visit while Mr. Mueller’s investigation was underway.
Addressing the delay, the American national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said in a statement on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had decided “the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year.”
Mr. Putin did not specify on Friday when he had told Mr. Trump about the invitation to Moscow, which he announced at the end of a summit meeting for the so-called Brics nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
It was a characteristic piece of political theater by a leader who is always eager to show that Russia has many irons in the fire other than United States, and who never wants to appear to be a supplicant to Washington.
Orignially published in NYT.