Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Fox News' Chris Wallace Monday that Western efforts to isolate Russia have "failed," and he and President Trump began a "new path" today.
The backdrop: Trump has been pilloried from all sides following today's press conference for seeming side with Russia, rather than the U.S. intelligence community, over election meddling in 2016. Putin reiterated his denials in the Fox News interview, saying, “Do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States, and influenced the choice of millions of Americans?”
- 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."
- On Trump's refusal to criticize him: "Was it worth going all the way to Helsinki… to just insult one another? That’s not exactly the diplomatic standard in the world… we met to find a way of improving our relationship.”
- On whether 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.”
- Putin said he'd react "negatively" if Georgia or Ukraine became NATO members.
- Asked about Russian troops causing civilian casualties in Syria, he blamed "terrorist groups" for destabilizing the country. He added, “You know when there is a warfare going on, and this is the worst thing that can happen for humankind, victims are inevitable.”
- Putin said Trump told him the U.S. position remains that Crimea is part of Ukraine, not Russia.
Putin on Putin...
- Asked why so many of his rivals end up dead or injured, Putin said, “First of all, all of us have many political rivals" before noting there had been assassinations in the U.S. as well.
- Asked what changed from his pro-democracy, pro-Europe days: “Nothing changed about me. I am the way I am. I am the way I was. I was elected as the president of the Russian Federation as an adult man.” He said things changed around him, like NATO expansion to the East. “What happened to you? What happened to the West?”