In an interview that just aired on Fox News, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Chris Wallace that Western efforts to isolate Russia have "failed," and he began down a "new path" today with President Trump.
The backdrop: Trump is being pilloried from all sides following today's press conference for seeming to side with Russia, rather than U.S. intelligence, over election meddling in 2016. Putin said it was only natural that Trump would decline to criticize him: "Was it worth going all the way to Helsinki to just insult one another? ... We met to find a way of improving our relationship.”
Catch up, quick:
- In the press conference, Trump said "both countries" were to blame for the current frosty relations. He also said that while his advisers tell him Russia meddled in 2016, Putin tells him it's not true and "I don't see any reason why it would be."
- Putin, for his part, said he had wanted Trump to win the election, but denied ordering any election meddling.
- Alina Polyakova of Brookings puts it this way: "This is the press conference Putin has been waiting for his whole life."
From the Wallace interview:
- On claims he has "dirt" on Trump: “We don’t have anything on them… before he announced that he will run for the presidency, he was of no interest for us. He was a rich person, but there are many rich people in the United States... It would never occur to anyone that he would think about running for president.”
- One tense moment: Wallace presented Putin with the indictment brought against 12 Russian intelligence operatives for their role in the election meddling. Putin refused to touch it, and dismissed the Mueller probe as "the internal political games of the United States."
How it's playing in global headlines...
- The Guardian (U.K.): "Nothing Short of Treasonous: Trump accused over Putin talks"
- Le Monde (France): "Vladimir Putin dominates the Helsinki match against Donald Trump"
- Deutsche Welle (Germany): "Donald Trump denies collusion, says Russia probe 'a disaster' for US"
- Corriere Della Sera (Italy): "Putin: Zero interference in the U.S. vote. Trump believes him"
- El Universal (Mexico): "Moscow didn't interfere in U.S. presidential election, Putin tells Trump"
- Globe and Mail (Canada): "Shock at summit as Trump backs Putin, not U.S. intel on election meddling"
Richard Haass, writes for Axios Expert Voices: "The summit should not be viewed in a vacuum. It was a worrisome and in many ways objectionable finale to a week that did much to undermine the foundations of U.S. foreign policy — especially NATO and the U.S.–U.K. special relationship — that have contributed so much to U.S. security, prosperity and influence for the better part of a century. Alas, the trip provided nothing that would take their place."
Go deeper: Trump's Helsinki humiliation.