There are three reasons why it will be difficult for Trump to confront Putin in any meaningful way in Helsinki.
First, he seems to share a mystical affinity with the strongman who rules his nation with apparent impunity.
Second, Trump was the beneficiary of Russia’s meddling. Accepting the existence of election interference
Third, interpersonal conflict doesn’t come naturally to Trump. This may be surprising given his penchant for starting fights. But Trump’s stoushes are usually initiated via media interviews or tweets; rarely does he confront a fellow leader face-to-face. This week Trump bagged German leader Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May behind their back, only to turn docile when they got in the same room.
The indictment issued against 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday, local time, offers Trump a simple choice for the Helsinki summit: to aggressively rebuke Putin – both in rhetoric and policy terms – or to look a coward and a dupe in front of the whole world.