President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are playing quite the game of geopolitical will-they-or-won’t-they.

On July 19, Trump told National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin to the White House in the fall for a follow-up to this month’s now-infamous meeting in Helsinki. Putin played coy: He neither accepted nor declined the invitation right away; instead, he let five days go by, then had his aides suggest instead that maybe the two leaders could meet on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina in November.

It was basically the diplomatic equivalent of, “I don’t think I can do dinner, but maybe I’ll run into you at the party on Saturday!”

Shortly after Putin’s non-rejection rejection, Bolton quickly backtracked, announcing that actually, Trump didn’t even want Putin to come to Washington right now — he’d rather wait until after special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation concludes.

Which brings us to Friday — on which Putin said, in front of a meeting of leaders of developing economies at Johannesburg, that while he’d totally love to come to Washington to meet with Trump, how about Trump just come to Moscow instead?

Say what you will about the brutal Russian dictator, the man certainly knows how to troll with the best of ’em.

But experts say there’s more than just trolling at work here: “It’s just another power play by Putin,” Rachel Rizzo, a European security expert at the Center for a New American Security think tank, told me. Read More

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