Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday rushed to defend US President Donald Trump from criticism over sharing classified information with Moscow, issuing a strongly worded statement that reflected the degree of the Russian leader’s frustration with the Washington infighting that has thwarted Kremlin hopes for a detente.
Trump’s decision to divulge classified intelligence with Russian diplomats marked a step toward Putin’s long-held goal of forging an alliance with the US in the fight against terrorism.
Putin has pushed for anti-terror cooperation for years, arguing that the fight against the Islamic State group and other extremist organizations would only succeed if Moscow and Washington combined their efforts.
In his view, such a partnership could provide further benefits by defusing tensions between Russia and the West and eventually leading to the lifting of sanctions the US and the EU imposed on Moscow over its role in Ukraine.
The Kremlin’s expectation that Trump and Putin would meet soon after Trump took office has withered amid US congressional and FBI investigations of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Putin still hopes to meet his US counterpart on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Germany in early July.
However, the Russian leader on Wednesday revealed his growing impatience with a stinging attack against Trump’s critics.
While the Kremlin initially refrained from comment about the intelligence controversy, Putin finally dropped decorum and lashed out at Trump’s detractors in decidedly undiplomatic language.
“I’m surprised to see them upsetting the domestic political situation in the United States under anti-Russian slogans,” he said. “These people either don’t understand that they are hurting their own country, and in that case they are just dumb. Or they do understand everything, and that means that they are dangerous and unscrupulous.”
Trump has been put on the defensive for sharing classified information with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during a White House meeting last week.
The president’s critics have said the disclosure could compromise the source of the intelligence provided by a US ally and make other nations wary about sharing sensitive information with the US.
For the Kremlin, Trump’s conversation with Lavrov and Kislyak was a welcome indication of his willingness to pool efforts with Russia in the fight against the Islamic State.
The administration of former US president Barack Obama shunned such cooperation, citing the Kremlin’s efforts to shore up support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Trump’s gesture was particularly important for Moscow given the spike in tensions following a US missile strike last month on a Syrian air force base that Washington said was a staging point for a chemical attack.
Moscow has insisted that the Syrian government was not involved in the chemical attack, a claim dismissed by Washington and its allies.
Putin said he was pleased by the results of Lavrov’s meeting with Trump, but demonstrated his irritation with what he described as anti-Russian “political schizophrenia spreading in the US.”
“We initially watched the evolving political struggle with amusement, but today it makes us feel sad and causes concern,” he said, adding that “it’s up to the American people to judge President Trump’s actions, and obviously it can only be done when he’s allowed to work at full capacity.”
On a sarcastic note, Putin said he issued Lavrov a reprimand for failing to share the classified information he had received from Trump with him and the Russian intelligence agencies.
“It’s very bad of him,” Putin said, following talks with visiting Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni as Lavrov and other Russian officials present exchanged smiles and laughed.
Putin went on to say that Russia was ready to provide the notes taken at Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak to US Congress, if the White House approves.
Top Russian lawmakers have also vented frustration and anger over the latest commotion over Trump’s relationship with Russia.
Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Russian Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, denounced what he described as a “perverted” attitude to Trump sharing classified data.
“Imagine for a second that we in Russia criticize our president for warning you Americans of a looming threat,” Kosachev wrote on Facebook. “Don’t you feel sick of or scared with such ‘American values?’”
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a