In Helsinki, Putin will deploy the KGB toolkit he so readily absorbed back in his youthful years to run rings around Trump. Putin will have an easy time capitalising on Trump’s ignorance, vanity and complacency. And he will relish the fact that Trump in Helsinki will be as unpredictable to his own advisers as he generally is to US allies. “Do not congratulate,” said a briefing note handed to the US president after Putin’s re-election in March. Of course, he could not resist doing so…

It’s hard to overstate what an unequal match the Helsinki get-together will be. Putin runs a tight power structure in Moscow, a militarist autocracy. Trump is in theory constrained by Congress (for example on Russia sanctions, which he can’t single-handedly unwind). Putin also has a long experience of US presidents trying to mend bilateral relations, only to discover later how much the Kremlin feeds on confrontation with the US for its domestic political narrative. Putin hardly needs the World Cup extravaganza to know he’s about to score big. He will seek to outmanoeuvre Trump with fake concessions such as empty promises to curtail Iran’s growing regional influence.