To that end, the Russian government has been angling for months for a meeting between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump, who has met a host of foreign leaders since he took office in January but only spoken with the Russian president by telephone. They are expected to get together during a summit meeting of the Group of 20 nations in Germany in July.
As with many of Mr. Putin’s maneuvers, his offer to release a record of the White House meeting with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and its Washington ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, seemed designed to unnerve and confuse.
For a start, the offer left everyone guessing about what kind of “record” Mr. Putin has of his diplomats’ meeting with Mr. Trump. Intentionally or otherwise, Mr. Putin muddied the waters by using a Russian word that can mean both audio recording and a written account. A Kremlin aide, Yury Ushakov, later clarified that Moscow has in its possession a written transcript, not a tape.
“I think Putin gets personal pleasure from exploiting the vulnerable position Trump has found himself in,” said Valeriy Solovey, a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. “Putin feels superior and this flatters him.”
But, he added, the main target of Mr. Putin’s intervention was domestic opinion, as has been the case with most moves by the Russian president that baffle and dismay foreigners.
“This was a well prepared impromptu move,” Mr. Solovey said. “The goal is to demonstrate the superiority of the Russian political system, in which major decisions can be made swiftly and effectively. From the Russian point of view, what happens in Washington these days demonstrates the total inability of the U.S. president to make any decisions that are needed in this situation.”
Mr. Putin’s remarks are unlikely to…