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Axios' Mike Allen (left) and retired Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. Photo: Axios

Retired Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, President Trump's former national security adviser, said Russian President Vladimir Putin is "determined to drag us all down like the KGB operator he is" through political subversion and disinformation.

What he's saying: "He's quite adept at it. He's one of the best liars in the world, deceivers in the world. ... Let's just stop being chumps about this. Right?"

  • "Russia is operating under the theory that he (Putin) can maybe be the last man standing because he'll be successful, in his view, at shaking confidence within our democratic societies in Europe and in the United States, in particular.

The big picture: McMaster, who has a new book out, "Battlegrounds," said all presidents, not just Trump, get Putin wrong in trying to foster a relationship, but "it's not going to get better," he said.

  • "The reason it's not is the ideology and emotion that drives (Putin). He is driven by a sense of honor lost, associated with the breakup of the Soviet Union and the loss of the Cold War, and then also this drive to restore Russia to national greatness, as I mentioned."

Watch the event.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 26, 2021 - World

Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies.

The state of play: Biden also raised arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to a White House readout. The statement said Biden and Putin agreed maintain "consistent communication," and that Biden stressed the U.S. would "act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies."

4 hours ago - World

In photos: Protests in U.S., across the world over Israeli–Palestinian conflict

A protest march in support of Palestinians near the Washington monument in Washington, D.C. on May 15. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of people rallied across the U.S. and the world Saturday following days of violence in Gaza and Israel that's killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, and eight Israelis, per AP.

The big picture: Most demonstrations were in support of Palestinians. There were tense scenes between pro-Israeli government protesters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Winnipeg, Canada, and Leipzig, Germany, but no arrests were made, CBS News and DW.com report.

Updated 12 hours ago - World

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

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