(CNN) - Rarely has a presidential summit between the United States and Russia been so badly needed yet so spectacularly undermined by timing and circumstance.
But there has also never been a chapter in the long history of superpower showdowns and historic Cold War-ending negotiations to match the surreal nature of Monday's encounter between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Their talks will unfold amid the neo-classical splendor of the presidential palace in Helsinki in a dramatic coda to an overseas tour in which the President has dressed down US allies, been charmed by a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and continued to rage over the ongoing Russia investigation, just days after the US Justice Department's indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence agents for election tampering.
There are multiple reasons why it's good for the two Presidents to talk given critical national security issues including the war in Syria, North Korea, fraying arms control agreements and the desperate state of relations between two nuclear powers with the capacity to wipe out humanity.
If they make progress against expectations, then the President's critics may have to eat their words. Even if the talks unfreeze lower level dialogue, they may be worthwhile.
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