Putin says US ‘forces’ are trying to derail success of Trump summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused forces in the United States of trying to undermine the success of his first summit with US President Donald Trump, but said the two leaders had begun to improve US-Russia ties anyway.
- Mr Putin says people are "naive" for thinking the pair would solve problems in hours
- He warned that if action isn't taken now the US-Russia arms treaty will lapse
- Mr Trump tweeted that critics "hate the fact" he will have a good relationship with Mr Putin
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," but that his meeting with Mr Trump allowed them to start on "the path to positive change."
He said it would have been naive to expect that the Helsinki summit could have resolved problems that had built up over many years in the space of a few hours.
"It was successful overall and led to some useful agreements. Of course, let's see how events will develop further," Mr Putin said, without disclosing the nature of the agreements he referred to.
However, he said "powerful" US forces were trying to sabotage what the summit had achieved.
Mr Putin did not name names, but spoke of US politicians who put their "narrow party interests" above the best interests of the United States and were powerful enough to be able to foist their questionable "stories" on millions of Americans.
"We see that there are forces in the United States that are prepared to casually sacrifice Russian-US relations, to sacrifice them for their ambitions in an internal political battle in the United States," Mr Putin said.
Those same forces appeared ready to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of US jobs and hurt US business and security while waging their divisive political battle, Mr Putin said.
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.
He notably flip-flopped repeatedly over what exactly he said to Mr Putin at the summit, and whether he believes Russia meddled in the 2016 election campaign on Mr Trump's behalf.
Mr Trump tweeted 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 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." He did not elaborate.
Mr Putin also warned of the dangers of Moscow and Washington failing to mend ties, saying the START strategic arms reduction treaty would expire in a year and a half unless work on extending it started now.
Russian politicians are rallying behind Mr Putin and shrugging off Mr Trump's accounts of what he said to Mr Putin at Monday's summit.
They are angry, however, at proposals by US congressmen to question Mr Trump's translator about what the men discussed privately.
Konstantin Kosachev, head of the upper house of Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said the idea sets a dangerous precedent that threatens "the whole idea of diplomacy," according to Russian news agencies.