United States President Donald Trump says Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is neither friend or foe, days before they are to meet in Helsinki.
“He’s not my enemy. ‘Is he a friend?’No.I don’t know him well enough, but the couple of times I have gotten to meet him we got along very well,” Trump said during a news conference Thursday at the NATO summit in Brussels.
Trump said Putin was a “competitor” and added, “… hopefully someday maybe he’ll be a friend, it could happen, but I just don’t know him very well.”
The two leaders are scheduled to meet Monday in Helsinki, when Trump says he will raise the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, Russia’s violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“We go into that meeting not looking for so much,” Trump said.
NATO allies are skeptical about whether Trump will be firm enough with the Russian leader, who has denied the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election.
Trump also said he is “not happy” about Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and again blamed presidential predecessor Barack Obama for allowing to happen.
On Wednesday, Trump criticized Germany for its ties with Russia.He said Britain’s natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government “totally controlled” and “captive” to Russia.