Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are likely to discuss the sanctions that Washington imposed on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine when the two leaders speak by telephone on Saturday, a senior White House aide said.
Trump has said in the past that, as part of a rapprochement he is seeking with Russia, he is prepared to review sanctions that his predecessor, Barack Obama, imposed on Russia over its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula.
That move would face resistance from both influential figures in Washington and foreign leaders who believe sanctions should only be eased if Moscow complies with the West’s conditions on Ukraine.
Among the U.S. sanctions causing the most pain to Russia are those targeting its financial services, limiting the Russian economy’s ability to raise debt, and its energy companies.
On the same day he speaks to Putin, Trump will have telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, White House spokesman Sean Spicer wrote in a Tweet. Both Hollande and Merkel have argued that it is premature to ease the sanctions.
Trump senior aide Kellyanne Conway said in U.S. television interviews on Friday that Trump and Putin would likely discuss a range of issues, including joint efforts to combat terrorism.
Asked on FOX News’s “Fox & Friends” program to comment on suggestions that the Obama administration sanctions would be on the agenda, Conway said: “All of that is under consideration.”
The call will be the first between the Russian and U.S. leaders since Putin called Trump to congratulate him on his election victory in November.
It is a first step towards what Trump has billed as a normalization of relations after three years of tensions sparked by the conflict in Ukraine.
Trump and Putin have never met and it was unclear how their very different personalities would gel. Trump is a flamboyant real estate deal-maker who often acts on gut instinct, while Putin is a former Soviet spy who calculates each step methodically.