WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump said on Sunday that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was “probably” involved in assassinations and poisonings, but said that he relies on his Russian counterpart.
Trump made the remarks in an interview with the CBS network for the “60 Minutes” program.
When asked whether he thought Putin is involved in assassinations and poisonings, Trump replied: “Probably he is, yeah. Probably (…) But I rely on them, it’s not in our country,”
Trump praised Putin during his 2016 presidential election campaign, which the White House said was his attempt to improve ties with Moscow.
His friendly stance towards Russia at that time received numerous criticisms from the Democrats, as US intelligence agencies accused Putin of meddling in the 2016 US elections to bolster Trump’s candidacy against Hillary Clinton.
Trump insisted that although he never publicly positions himself against Putin, he is very “tough” with the Russian president in private.
“I think I’m very tough with him personally. I had a meeting with him. The two of us. It was a very tough meeting and it was a very good meeting,” the president said, referring to the meeting he held with Putin at the July 16 summit in Helsinki.
The exact content of their talks, which lasted four hours, remains unknown, since the two leaders were left alone with only their interpreters.
In recent weeks, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, with the support of the United States, Canada and Australia, have accused Moscow of attempting cyberattacks on several international organizations, such as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague.
The UK also blamed the Kremlin for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a Russian-made nerve agent in March in Salisbury, UK.
Moscow dismissed the accusations, arguing that it was the West’s attempt to discredit the Russian government.