Putin has nonetheless gotten himself trapped. His country is heavily sanctioned, economically weak, overextended, and lacking in allies. His unprovoked land grab in Crimea, attack on neighboring Ukraine, electoral interference in the U.S. and Europe, assassination of opponents, support to Syria’s bloody dictator Bashar al-Assad and constant lies have left him ostracized in much of the developed world. He can no longer offer his people wealth or the vision of a better future. He instead relies on the tools of oppression and scapegoats to blame for his failures. The dynamic is unlikely to change anytime soon.
And yet despite all this, and even with the indictments, Putin walks into the summit with a distinct advantage. Just as Putin has unleashed his intelligence and security services, Trump has kneecapped and undermined his own.