Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin would achieve a massive propaganda victory if U.S. President Donald Trump agrees to meet with him.
“If this meeting takes place — God forbid — that’ll be the biggest geopolitical victory for Putin,” Kasparov, a longtime Putin critic, told Yahoo News. “It’s not just about discussions there or what’s being said or not being said at the meeting. The very fact that Putin could sit at the same table as Trump will help Putin dramatically strengthen his grip and power in Russia.”
During a wide-ranging interview Monday with Yahoo News Anchor Bianna Golodryga, Kasparov said that top officials and elites in Russia had expected Putin and Trump to have a cordial relationship before he entered the White House. He said they thought the leaders might even strike up a “grand bargain” to normalize relations that could even include Trump’s recognizing Russia’s claim to Crimea — but the countries’ relationship has foundered since Inauguration Day.
“Instead, the relations are just at the lowest point,” Kasparov said. “So if Putin manages to meet with Trump, that’s all about it. That will be the greatest coup for him to strengthen his grip and power in Russia.”
He pointed out that though the Trump administration has criticized Putin, Trump himself has not. This absence of condemnation is noteworthy for several reasons, including Putin’s appalling human rights record and Trump’s penchant for insults.
“Donald Trump has never said anything negative about Vladimir Putin. His administration did,” Kasparov said. “He could talk about Russia, but Vladimir Putin is excluded from the list of people he criticized, and this list is endless.”
Kasparov appeared on Yahoo News with Golodryga in part to discuss his new book about the future of artificial intelligence, “Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins.” In 1997, Kasparov, the world’s reigning chess champion at the time, famously lost a game to IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. However, given today’s geopolitical climate, the conversation largely focused on the risk Putin poses to Russia and the world.
Kasparov has been highly critical of Putin for many years. He led the pro-democracy resistance to Putin’s regime in Moscow but fled to New York because he feared for his safety. He has been calling on Western democracies — such as the U.S., the U.K., Germany and France — to stop negotiating with Putin because doing so only appears to validate his claim to power back home.
In his book “Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped,” Kasparov argues that leaders of the free world have appeased rather than confronted Putin since he ascended to the presidency in 1999 — allowing the Russian strongman to become a serious threat to liberty throughout the world.