Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Commission for Military Technical Cooperation in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 24, 2019. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) Donald Trump has jokingly told Vladimir Putin not to meddle in the election, as the Russian leader said migrants can “kill with impunity” in the West.
Donald Trump has jokingly told Russian President Putin “don’t meddle in the election” at a bilateral meeting on the sideline of the G20 summit in Japan.
The joke came in response to a reporters question for the pair who conducted their first meeting since Robert Mueller concluded Russia did interfere with the US election in 2016.
Democrat Chuck Schumer said the joke is on America and Mr Putin is laughing having been given the green light to do it again in 2020 by the US President.
Mr Putin invited the US leader to visit Russia next year to commemorate the end of WWII, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. The pair also discussed economic ties, arms control, China, Syria and Turkey.
The meeting followed and explosive interview in which Mr Putin said Western liberalism has “outlived its purpose”.
In a rare 90 minute conversation with the Financial Times, the Russian leader said the “liberal idea” has become “obsolete” and took aim at multiculturalism, immigration and transgender rights.
“The migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants must be protected,” he told Financial Times editor Lionel Barber. “What rights are these? Every crime must have its punishment
On LGBT rights, he defended “traditional values” and said: “They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles. I cannot even say exactly what genders these are, I have no notion. Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that.”
Mr Putin also warned of a global arms race and said he “hoped” it would not come to full-scale conflict but “it is hard to say whether the US would have enough patience not to make any rash decisions”.
On the Sergei Skripal poisoning — in which a former spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent on the streets of Salisbury, England, in March 2018 — he poured scorn on the idea as “not worth five kopecks” and suggested there was room for improvement in UK-Russian relations. The incident, which also led to the death of a British civilian, sparked a diplomatic outcry leading to the expulsion of hundreds Russian diplomats from the US and UK.
Asked about his risk appetite after 20 years as Russian leader, Mr Putin quoted a Russian proverb that says “he who does not take risks never drinks champagne”. He said his decision to intervene in Syria was a calculated decision that had proved positive for Russia.
The meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Putin was the first since Robert Mueller’s investigation concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 campaign, but did not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The two leaders previously met in Finland in a remarkable press conference when Mr Trump refused to admonish Mr Putin over the interference and did not side with US intelligence agencies, before famously backtracking and claiming he misspoke.
“He just said it is not Russia,” Mr Trump said at the time in Helsinki. “I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
On Friday, Mr Trump said he enjoyed a “very, very good relationship” with Mr Putin and said “many positive things are going to come out of the relationship.”
The White House said afterwards that the leaders agreed to keep talking about a “21st century model of arms control,” which the US President said needed to include China. They also discussed the situations in Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine. The US and Russia are on opposing sides on all four issues.
The meeting with Mr Putin — which came amid a gauntlet of negotiations on international crises, trade wars and a growing global to-do list — was the main event on Mr Trump’s agenda Friday. But the US President also kept an eye on the race to replace him back home, where 10 Democrats met in Miami as part of the first debates of the 2020 presidential race.
“I just passed a television set on the way here. I saw that health care and maximum health care was given to 100 per cent of the illegal immigrants coming into our country by the Democrats,” Mr Trump said, telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel during their meeting that a debate the previous night “wasn’t very exciting.”
“So I look forward to spending time with you rather than watching,” he said.
Mrs Merkel did not react.
Last year, Mr Trump and Mr Putin announced their withdrawal from a key arms control pact, the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It is set to terminate this summer, raising fears of a new arms race. Another major nuclear agreement, the New Start treaty, is set to expire in 2021 unless Moscow and Washington negotiate an extension.