Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called his first summit with President Trump a success — but warned that Trump’s opponents in the U.S. are hampering any progress on what they discussed, such as limiting their nuclear arsenals or ending the Syrian war.
In his first public comments about the summit, Putin told Russian diplomats that U.S.-Russian relations are “in some ways worse than during the Cold War,” but that his meeting with Trump on Monday 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,” Putin said.
“We will see how things develop further,” Putin said, evoking unnamed “forces” in the U.S. trying to prevent any improvement in relations and “putting narrow party interests above the national interest.”
Putin faces no serious political opposition at home, and leads a country that has never experienced a democratic transfer of power.
Trump, by contrast, has come under widespread domestic criticism about the meeting — both from Democratic opponents and senior Republicans. Trump notably flip-flopped repeatedly over what exactly he said to Putin at the summit, and whether he believes that Russia meddled in the 2016 election campaign on Trump’s behalf.
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 Trump’s unpredictable presidency, Putin vaunted Russia’s “consistent, responsible, independent foreign policy.”
Putin had both criticism and praise for Trump in a broad speech about Russian foreign policy.
The Russian leader praised 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 U.S.-dominated NATO, saying Russia would hit back with an “equivalent response” to NATO bases near Russia’s borders and other “aggressive steps.” He didn’t elaborate.