President Donald Trump views and treats Russian President Vladimir Putin as a confidante, according to a Friday Washington Post report, all the while approaching the leaders of U.S. allies in a hostile fashion.
Trump consults Putin on international policy and the two commiserate over American forces they believe to be acting against them, according to The Washington Post.
"The president thinks he can be friends with Putin," former national security adviser H.R. McMaster said, according to US officials cited by the Post. "I don't know why, or why he would want to be."
Putin appears to be playing along, offering Trump the flattery he so craves and harping on such issues as the ‘fake news’ and ‘deep state’.
"It's not us," Putin reportedly told Trump. "It's the subordinates fighting against our friendship."
Trump has repeatedly ignored the advice of White House aides who caution him against public expressions of his fondness of Putin – a cunning leader that former intelligence chiefs have said is likely grooming Trump to be an unwitting Russian asset.
Nevertheless, the two leaders are slated to meet in Helsinki, Finland on July 16 for a highly anticipated summit. This is the second meeting arranged against Trump aides' wishes. and the third time Trump and Putin will meet since Trump took office last year.
Last month, Trump also told Fox News he thinks the two could solve the situations in the Ukraine and Syria just by meeting, progress which wasn't evident after their last meeting and that Trump aides reportedly doubt.
"I could say: 'Would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Syria,'" Trump said. "'Would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Ukraine?'"