The Slatest

White House Says Trump Called Putin to Talk About Wildfires

Putin and Trump seated, with their countries' respective flags behind them.
U.S. President Donald Trump meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

While everyone was watching the Democratic primary debate on Wednesday night, the White House decided it was a good moment to acknowledge a phone call today between President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin:

All conversations between these two leaders get a bit of extra scrutiny for obvious reasons, but a few things stand out about this one. For one thing, the Trump administration stayed silent for several hours after the Russian government and media publicized the call earlier today. The Russian statement heralded the call as “a sign that fully-fledged bilateral relations could be restored in the future.”

While the ongoing wildfires in Siberia are indeed devastating and frightening, they haven’t gotten a huge amount of media attention in the U.S., and it seems like an unusual thing to capture Trump’s interest. (The offer of assistance is quite a contrast to his public response to deadly wildfires in California last year, which was to blame the state of California for them.)

As for “trade between the two countries,” it’s not all that significant. The recent harsh crackdown on protests in Moscow and imprisonment of opposition leaders apparently didn’t come up.

Nothing to see here!