WATCH: President Trump, President Putin Hold Joint Press Conference

President Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday. (Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times)

President Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia are meeting at a presidential palace in Helsinki, Finland, for their first summit.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin began one-on-one talks on Monday at an exceptionally awkward time, just days after the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence agents on charges of hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. But Mr. Trump blamed the United States for the tensions between the countries, not Russia.

Speaking briefly with reporters before the two men went behind closed doors, Mr. Trump said “we will have discussions on everything from trade to military to nuclear,” as well as relations with China, but he did not mention Russia’s interference in the 2016 election that brought Mr. Trump to power.

The meeting will cap a weeklong trip to Europe in which Mr. Trump made his distaste for diplomatic norms abundantly clear: He caused turmoil at the NATO summit meeting and during a visit to Britain by demanding that allies spend more on defense, saying that Prime Minister Theresa May was mishandling Brexit, advising her to sue the European Union over the issue and calling the bloc a trade foe.”

• The meeting on Monday will be closely scrutinized for signs of whether Mr. Trump is friendlier to his Russian counterpart than he was to the NATO leaders or to Mrs. May. Mr. Putin, as is his habit, was late, keeping the American president waiting.

• Mr. Putin proposed the meeting in March during a phone call with Mr. Trump, and American officials say the Russian leader desperately needs Washington to ease sanctions that have squeezed his country’s economy and oligarchs.

• American observers on both sides of the political aisle fear that Mr. Trump, who dislikes policy briefings and has said he needed no preparation for the meeting, could be an easy mark for manipulation by Mr. Putin, a former intelligence agent whom Mr. Trump has refused to criticize directly.

SOURCE: New York Times