Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that U.S.-Russia relations are “getting worse and worse,” criticizing U.S. sanctions and praising his country’s trade relationship with China.
“Unfortunately, we cannot say anything of the kind about our relations with the U.S.,” he told state media outlet Mir TV. “They are in fact deteriorating, getting worse by the hour.”
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Putin said trade with China has already surpassed $108 billion, exceeding the nation’s target trade amount of $100 billion.
His comments contradict President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Russia, which the U.S. leader has called an ally. Trump has said he and Putin discussed “forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” to stop election hacking, even though U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump has voiced skepticism that Russia was behind the hacks of Democrats’ email accounts in 2016. During the campaign, he tweeted, “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should have never been written (stupid), because Putin likes me.”
He has also said his son and son-in-law did nothing wrong when they met in 2016 with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer offering information on Clinton. In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that aired Wednesday, he said a foreign actor offering information on an election opponent wouldn’t count as interference, and he said he might not alert the FBI if it happened in 2020. “I think I’d take it,” Trump said.