Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that “all this nonsense” — that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election in order to make Donald Trump president — must stop so that American “domestic feuds” don’t “poison the Russian-U.S. relations and have a negative impact on the world.”
Putin spoke as part of a panel, moderated by PBS NewsHour special correspondent Ryan Chilcote, at Russian Energy Week in Moscow.
Chilcote asked Putin about the perception that Russia helped get Trump elected. “I do not think that President Trump was somehow compromised. He was elected, people voted for him — that was the choice of the people,” Putin said through an interpreter. “It’s not our business, it’s the business of the U.S.”
Putin said that the U.S. and Russia need to work together on issues of common interest, such as nonproliferation, combatting terrorism and climate change, and that sooner or later the two nations would “be able to restore the relations 100 percent.”
“We have a lot of overlapping joint challenges and problems, and we should solve them together.”
Here are more highlights from his appearance:
On the poisoning of Sergei Skripal:
Putin said the scandal surrounding the poisoning of the former Russian spy in the United Kingdom “is being artificially blown up” by the media, and the sooner it’s laid to rest, the better.
Western nations responded to the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter on British soil by expelling more than 100 Russian diplomats. The Trump administration also issued sanctions under a 1991 law on the use of lethal chemical or biological weapons. British authorities have charged two Russians, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, in absentia for the crime.
Skripal served five years in prison after getting caught spying for British intelligence, but was released in 2010 as part of a swap with the U.S. Putin said Skripal betrayed his country and his punishment was justified. “He was a traitor,” Putin said. “He’s a scoundrel. … Espionage is one of the oldest professions in the world, just like prostitution.”
Putin said the U.S. is violating international law with the presence of its forces in Syria and should get a mandate from the U.N. Security Council to stay.
Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey, which backs several opposition groups, recently struck a deal to avoid a large-scale military assault on Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold in the country. “We should strive for the situation when there would be absolutely no foreign forces in the territory of Syria,” including those from Russia, Putin said.
On Venezuela’s economic crisis:
When asked whether Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro must go because of the country’s dire economic condition, Putin said it is up to the Venezuelan people and “nobody else in the world.” The situation has been building over time, and no one else can blindly interfere, he said.
On climate change:
Carbon emissions from human activity have an effect on climate change, but additional forces are at play, Putin said. Trump withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, however, “we don’t have to antagonize our relations with the United States” and can seek other ways to engage on reducing human emissions, Putin said.