Carlos Barria / REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to U.S. President Donald Trump during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 2017.

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The Real Opportunity Behind the Media Spectacle

By Michael Kimmage

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MICHAEL KIMMAGE is Professor of History at the Catholic University of America and the author of The Decline of the West: An American Story. From 2014 to 2016, he served on the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, where he held the Russia/Ukraine portfolio.

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet for a frenetically anticipated summit on July 16 in Helsinki. Their encounter—coming amid cascading revelations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, unnerving questions about Trump’s admiration for his Russian counterpart, and U.S.-Russian tensions around the globe—is certain to be a media spectacle. But as its location subtly implies, the real importance of the meeting may have little to do with the theatrics at the top. Unglamorous, largely unnoticed diplomatic processes could prove more consequential. In Helsinki in 1975, the United States, the Soviet Union, and various European powers devised a security architecture for Europe that was controversial at the time but ultimately crucial to the Cold War’s peaceful end. Without the Helsinki Accords, which fostered agreement on Europe’s borders and enshrined a nominal commitment to human rights in the Eastern bloc, the revolutions of 1989 may never have come and almost certainly would not have been as peaceful as they were. Sonia Rykiel 657940 women's Court Shoes in Black,Nike Air Force 1 '07 Trainers - BlackSaucony Jazz Original Vintage Trainers Black,Le Chameau Mens Vierzonord XL Wellington Boot, Vert Vierzon, EU44 (UK10)Altberg Boots AltBerg Base Boot, Ankle Height, MOD Brown - 09.5 mediumAlberto Guardiani Court - Women Alberto Guardiani Courts online on United Kingdom - Betty London ANTE women's Sandals in Black, D.Co Copenhagen KASSANDRA women's Sandals in Red,Gabor Epworth Womens Wedge Shoes,Nueva Epoca - Isabel - Black/Red - UK 6,Southbay Slip On Shoes Standard Fit,BRAKEBURN STAG WELLIES LADIES BOOT,Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - 44815329IP, Joya SONJA 2 women's Shoes (Trainers) in Airstep / A.S.98 CORN women's Mid Boots in Grey, New Balance WL420 women's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue,28018 - Black - UK 8,Brasher Women's Country Hiker Shoe - Brown, Brown,Altberg Fremington Lite Lady - Medium - UK 7,Menbur Boots - Women Menbur Boots online on United Kingdom - 11507281QS, Piesanto 175552 women's Casual Shoes in Grey, The Flexx FLEXX DIPPING NUBUCK JUTE women's Sandals in Beige, SuperTrash MARYLIN women's Mid Boots in Red,Bonanza (Global) Nike FREE TR FlYKNIT5 Wolf Grey WMN sz:5.5; 8.5 Running Casual Shoe 718785-001Finnick Flecked Canvas Espadrille Shoe,Nike Skate Boarding Eric Koston 2 Max - Rood,Janet Sport Boots - Women Janet Sport Boots online on United Kingdom - Regard ROAXA women's Casual Shoes in LPB Shoes CAROLE women's Low Ankle Boots in Grey, Tommy Hilfiger PIPER 1A women's Mid Boots in Black,The lessons of that previous U.S.-Russian encounter in Helsinki are worth remembering now. The agreement that resulted involved years of drab, painstaking diplomacy. It required agonizing compromise on both sides. It rested on work rather than optics. Under the shadow of low expectations, a difficult process preceded final success. The summit’s real importance, in other words, had little to do with momentary media spectacle. The same could be true of next week’s Trump-Putin meeting.

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