Russian ruler says relations with US at their lowest point in years as the two presidents prepare to meet in Geneva
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has said US-Russia relations are at their lowest point in years, in an interview before his meeting with the US president, Joe Biden, next week.
Putin and Biden will meet in Geneva on Wednesday. The White House has said Biden will bring up ransomware attacks emanating from Russia, Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine, the jailing of dissidents and other issues that have irritated the relationship.
“We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years,” Putin said, according to an NBC translation of excerpts of an interview broadcast on Friday.
Putin characterised the former US president Donald Trump as “an extraordinary individual, talented individual”, but impulsive, and said Biden, as a career politician, was “radically different” from the “colourful” Trump.
“It is my great hope that, yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements on behalf of the sitting US president,” he said, according to a translation by NBC News.
Putin has openly admitted that in the 2016 vote he supported Trump, who voiced admiration for the Russian leader and notoriously at their first summit appeared to accept his denials of election interference.
Biden, at the start of an eight-day visit to Europe this week, said: “We’re not seeking conflict with Russia.
“We want a stable and predictable relationship … but I’ve been clear: the United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities.”
Putin was asked about several Russian dissidents whose deaths have been blamed on Moscow, including the ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned in 2006. Putin dismissed the question and said some of those responsible for the deaths had gone to prison.
Asked about Biden calling him a killer in an interview in March, Putin said he had heard dozens of such accusations. “This is not something I worry about in the least,” Putin said, dismissing it as part of “macho behaviour” common in Hollywood.
Such discourse “is part of US political culture where it’s considered normal. By the way, not here, it is not considered normal here,” he said.
On the issue of recent ransomware attacks that the United States has traced to Russia, Putin denied any knowledge of the hackings and called on Biden to reach an agreement with him on cyberspace, NBC News said.
Putin also dismissed a report in the Washington Post this week that Russia was preparing to supply Iran with an advanced satellite that would enable it to track potential military targets across the Middle East. “It’s just fake news. At the very least I don’t know anything about this kind of thing,” Putin said, according to NBC News. “It’s just nonsense, garbage.”