I’m not opposed to an American president meeting with Putin, so long as the conditions are right and we are clear what we think we are going to accomplish. That doesn’t seem to apply here, and it’s a really bad idea for Trump to meet alone with Putin and possibly make some sort of statement that Putin interprets or misinterprets as flashing green light for further adventurism. That’s why it’s particularly important to have the professionals in the room on this.

As for Trump’s posture toward Russia, it continues to be a welter of contradictions. We’ve gone through a week where Trump was supposedly destroying the Western alliance, allegedly at Putin’s bidding, at the same time the president was forcefully advocating two policies anathema to the Kremlin: More European defense spending and opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.