Vladimir Putin says Donald Trump’s critics are blocking international progress
The Russian leader claims criticism of the US president’s performance at the Helsinki summit overshadow what was discussed.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has called his first summit with Donald Trump a success but said the US president’s domestic opponents are hampering any progress on what they discussed.
He said issues such as limiting their nuclear arsenals or ending the Syrian war were being affected by US internal critics of Mr Trump.
In his first public comments about the summit, Mr Putin told Russian diplomats that US-Russian relations are “in some ways worse than during the Cold War”.
He said his meeting with Mr Trump on Monday in Helsinki, Finland’s capital, allowed them to start on “the path to positive change”.
“It’s naive to think that the problems would be solved in a few hours. But no one expected that,” Mr Putin said.
“We will see how things develop further,” Mr Putin said, evoking unnamed “forces” in the US trying to prevent any improvement in relations and “putting narrow party interests above the national interest”.
Mr Putin faces no serious political opposition at home, and leads a country that has never experienced a democratic transfer of power.
Mr Trump, by contrast, has come under widespread domestic criticism about the meeting both from Democratic opponents and senior Republicans.
Mr Trump notably flip-flopped repeatedly over what exactly he said to Mr Putin at the summit, and whether he believes that Russia meddled in the 2016 election campaign on Trump’s behalf.
Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday that his critics in the media “are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin”.
In a possible dig at Mr Trump’s unpredictable presidency, Mr Putin vaunted Russia’s “consistent, responsible, independent foreign policy”.
Mr Putin had both criticism and praise for Mr Trump in a broad speech about Russian foreign policy.
The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war. They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin. We are doing MUCH better than any other country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2018
The Russian leader praised Mr Trump’s mediation efforts in North Korea, but slammed his decision to pull out of the international accord curbing Iran’s nuclear activities.
He also lashed out at Europe and US-dominated Nato, saying Russia would hit back with an “equivalent response” to Nato bases near Russia’s borders and other “aggressive steps”.
The US president, meanwhile, criticised media reaction to the summit.
Mr Trump tweeted: “The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war. They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin. We are doing much better than any other country!”