WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin issued a rare joint statement on April 25 commemorating a 1945 World War II link-up of U.S. and Soviet troops on their way to defeat Nazi Germany as an example of how their countries can cooperate.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the decision to issue the statement sparked debate within the Trump administration, with some officials worried it could undercut stern U.S. messages to Moscow on arms control and Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and Syria, among other issues.
The joint statement marked the anniversary of the April 25, 1945, meeting on a bridge over the Elbe River in Germany of Soviet soldiers advancing from the east and American troops moving from the West.
“This event heralded the decisive defeat of the Nazi regime,” the statement said.
“The meeting on the Elbe represented a culmination of tremendous efforts by the many countries and peoples that joined forces under the framework of the United Nations Declaration of 1942. This common struggle required enormous sacrifice by millions of soldiers, sailors, and citizens in multiple theaters of war.
“We also recognize the contributions from millions of men and women on the home front, who forged vast quantities of war materials for use around the world. Workers and manufacturers played a crucial role in supplying the allied forces with the tools necessary for victory.
“The ‘Spirit of the Elbe’ is an example of how our countries can put aside differences, build trust, and cooperate in pursuit of a greater cause.”
The Journal said the last joint statement marking the Elbe River bridge link-up was issued in 2010, when the Obama administration was seeking improved relations with Moscow.
Trump had hoped to travel to Moscow to mark the anniversary. He has been complimentary of Putin, promoted cooperation with Moscow, and has denied Russian collusion with the Trump campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Some senior administration officials and lawmakers, by contrast, have been fiercely critical of Russia.
U.S. intelligence officials have warned lawmakers that Moscow is meddling in the 2020 presidential election campaign, which Russia denies.
By Jonathan Landay