- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he believes U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller conducted an “objective” probe into whether there was collusion between Russia and President Trump’s 2016 campaign, and that ties might improve between Moscow and Washington now that the investigation has concluded.

“However exotic the work of special counsel Mueller was, I have to say that on the whole [it was] a very objective investigation and he confirmed that there were no traces whatsoever of collusion between Russia and the incumbent administration, which we said was absolutely fake,” Mr. Putin said through a translator upon meeting Tuesday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Russia.

“We said before there was no collusion from our government officials and it could not be there,” the Russian president said. “Still that was one of the reasons of [a] certain break in our inter-state ties. I’m hoping today that the situation is changing and common interest in maintaining strategic stability.”

He went on to express hope for improved U.S.-Russia dialogue on such issues as nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional security issues, fighting criminal gangs and eradicating poverty.

While U.S.-Russia friction has emerged on a range of fronts in recent years — from Russian activity in Venezuela, Syria and Ukraine to disputes over Russian cheating on the Cold War era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty — Mr. Putin suggested he and Mr. Trump have a warm relationship and that Mr. Trump seeks to facilitate a new era of dialogue.

“Several days ago I had the pleasure of talking to the president of the United States on the phone and I had the impression that the president intends to rebuild U.S.-Russian relations and contacts in order to solve the issues of mutual interest,” Mr. Putin said. “On our behalf, we have said it multiple times that we also would like to rebuild fully-fledged relations and I hope that right now the conducive environment is being built for that.”

Mr. Putin made the comments at the start of a meeting in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi with Mr. Pompeo and a U.S. delegation.

Mr. Pompeo said talks with Russian officials on Tuesday were “productive.”

“I think are truly overlapping interests that we can build on, and most importantly, President Trump very much wants to do that,” Mr. Pompeo said. “Just as you will, we’ll protect our nation’s interest but there are places that our two countries can find where we can be cooperative.”

A source close to closed-door talks that occurred in Sochi said the U.S. delegation was eager to focus on a strategy of driving a wedge between Russia and China, whose growing rise as a military power is seen to have caused increasing unease in Moscow in recent years.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide