Putin warms to Trump, flexes mus­cles on Syria

‘US Democrats sore losers’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MOSCOW:

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin yesterday ap­peared to cozy up to US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump while stamp­ing his au­thor­ity as the key power­bro­ker in Syria. At his an­nual endof-year press con­fer­ence, the con­fi­dent Krem­lin strong­man praised Trump for tap­ping into the pub­lic mood in the US to claim his sur­prise win in the elec­tions.

Putin praised Trump, say­ing he had his fin­ger on the pulse of US so­ci­ety, and launched a scathing at­tack on the Democrats, say­ing they had for­got­ten the mean­ing of their own name and were sore losers. Speak­ing at his an­nual news con­fer­ence in Moscow, Rus­sia’s pres­i­dent said that only Rus­sia had be­lieved that Trump would be­come the next pres­i­dent of the United States, but that did not mean the Democrats had the right to blame him for their de­feat.

“The cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion and the lead­er­ship of the Demo­cratic Party are try­ing to blame all their fail­ures on ex­ter­nal fac­tors,” Putin told re­porters.

“(We are talk­ing about) a party which has clearly for­got­ten the orig­i­nal mean­ing of its own name,” Putin said, ac­cus­ing the Democrats of “shame­lessly” abus­ing their sta­tus as the rul­ing party to try to in­flu­ence pub­lic opin­ion. “Out­stand­ing fig­ures in Amer­i­can his­tory from the ranks of the Demo­cratic Party would likely be turn­ing in their graves. Roo­sevelt cer­tainly would be,” he said.

“He went to the end, though no­body be­lieved that he would win ex­cept us,” Putin said. Ties be­tween Moscow and Wash­ing­ton have hit their low­est point since the Cold War un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama due to the Ukraine cri­sis and Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Syria.

But the elec­tion of Trump, who praised Putin as a strong leader, has pro­vided a sur­prise fil­lip for the Krem­lin, with the Rus­sian econ­omy still strug­gling due to West­ern sanc­tions and lower oil prices.Of­fi­cials in the US have ac­cused Rus­sia of cy­ber­at­tacks aimed at in­ter­fer­ing with the US vote, with some al­leg­ing Moscow sought to tip the bal­ance in fa­vor of Trump.

Putin, how­ever, backed Trump’s re­jec­tion of the al­le­ga­tions, in­sist­ing “as the pres­i­dent-elect said en­tirely cor­rectly, who knows who these hack­ers were?” The Rus­sian leader also sought to play down a po­ten­tial nu­clear stand-off with the fu­ture US pres­i­dent, a day af­ter they both pledged to bol­ster their nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Putin in­sisted there was “noth­ing un­usual” about Trump’s call in a tweet Thurs­day to bol­ster Amer­ica’s nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity, hours af­ter he or­dered his top brass to strengthen Moscow’s “nu­clear po­ten­tial”. “We will never look to be dragged into an armed race and to spend re­sources that we can’t af­ford,” Putin said, af­ter in­sist­ing he un­der­stood the US was the stronger mil­i­tary power but “we just say that we are stronger than any ag­gres­sor”. — Agen­cies

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