MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday scoffed at allegations of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s marketing campaign and Russia, saying they’ve been “invented” by Trump’s foes and have harm the U.S. political system.
He additionally mocked his critic, Alexei Navalny, who’s barred from difficult Putin within the March 18 vote by an embezzlement conviction, saying these like him wish to plunge Russia right into a destabilized quagmire. He vowed to not let that occur.
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Talking at his annual marathon information convention, Putin reaffirmed his agency denial of meddling within the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“All of it was invented by individuals who oppose President Trump to undermine his legitimacy,” he stated. “I’m puzzled by that. Individuals who do it are inflicting harm to the home political scenario, incapacitating the president and exhibiting a scarcity of respect to voters who forged their ballots for him.”
He argued that Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, whose contacts with Trump’s entourage are a part of the FBI and Congressional probes into ties between the Trump marketing campaign and Russia, was merely performing his routine duties.
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Putin additionally insisted Russia’s state-funded RT TV and Sputnik information company had a really minor presence within the U.S. media market, including that the U.S. demand for them to register as overseas brokers represented an assault on media freedom. Russia has responded in return, requesting the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to register as overseas brokers.
Putin famous Trump’s achievements, saying that international markets have demonstrated buyers’ confidence in Trump’s financial course.
The Russian chief stated he and Trump had spoken on a first-name foundation on the sidelines of two worldwide summits this 12 months and voiced hope that Trump finally would have the ability to fulfill his marketing campaign guarantees to enhance ties with Russia.
Putin emphasised that the 2 international locations have to cooperate on tackling international challenges. He stated Russia, particularly, is prepared for “constructive” cooperation on tackling the North Korean standoff.
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Putin has warned the U.S. to not use pressure in opposition to North Korea, including that the results shall be “catastrophic.” He emphasised that Russia opposes Pyongyang’s nuclear bid, however added the U.S. had “provoked” Pyongyang into growing its nuclear and missile applications by spiking a 2005 deal below which North Korea agreed to halt them.
Putin stated Moscow was inspired to listen to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assertion about readiness for talks with Pyongyang, hailing it as a “life like” method.
The Russian chief additionally voiced concern in regards to the U.S. contemplating a pullout from key nuclear arms management pacts, including that Moscow intends to stay to them.
He famous that Russia is especially apprehensive about what he described as U.S. violations of the INF Treaty, a Chilly-Warfare period pact banning intermediate vary missiles. The U.S. has accused Russia of pact violations — fees that Russia has denied. Putin stated the U.S. accusations are a part of a “propaganda” marketing campaign to pave the best way for the U.S. withdrawal.
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He emphasised that Russia will “guarantee its safety with out coming into an arms race.” Russia’s navy spending subsequent 12 months will quantity to 2.eight trillion rubles (about $46 billion) in comparison with the Pentagon’s finances of about $700 billion, he famous.
Putin, who declared his re-election bid final week, stated he would run as a self-nominated candidate, maintaining a distance from the principle Kremlin-controlled social gathering, United Russia, whose many members have been dogged by corruption accusations.
He stated he would welcome political competitors however insisted that the opposition ought to provide a constructive program.
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Answering a query from 36-year-old celeb TV host Ksenia Sobchak, who’s difficult him within the March 18 presidential election, Putin stated Thursday that he doesn’t worry political competitors however emphasised that the federal government would shield the nation from makes an attempt by radicals to destabilize Russia.
With out mentioning Navalny’s title, Putin likened him to former Georgian president turned Ukrainian opposition chief, Mikhail Saakashvili, who has challenged the Ukrainian authorities with a sequence of anti-corruption protests.
Putin stated his authorities wouldn’t let “folks like Saakashvili” plunge Russia into instability like that which is now wracking Ukraine.
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Requested about accusations of state-supported doping that led to Russia being banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, Putin alleged that there’s a political factor behind the claims, which Russia has denied.
Putin says Russian doping knowledgeable Grigory Rodchenkov — who’s below witness safety after fleeing to america final 12 months — is “below the management” of the FBI and “American particular providers.”
He steered U.S. businesses could also be giving Rodchenkov unspecified “substances in order that he says what’s required.”
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Putin stated the truth that Rodchenkov was appointed to run Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory “was a mistake on the a part of those that did it, and I do know who did it,” however didn’t title names or say they need to be punished.
Rodchenkov’s testimony performed a key position in Worldwide Olympic Committee investigations that led final week to Russian athletes being required to compete below a impartial flag on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Nataliya Vasilyeva and James Ellingworth in Moscow contributed to this report.