The US had ‘been far tougher on Russia than anybody’, Mr Trump said yesterday as he vowed to take a firm line with Vladimir Putin when they meet next week.
He dismissed the notion that his repeated criticism of Nato would embolden the Russian president but played down his chances of success, adding: ‘I’m not going in with high expectations, but we may come out with some very surprising things.’
Mr Trump will leave Britain this weekend for a meeting with Mr Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday. Theresa May said yesterday she had discussed Russia with the US leader and they agreed that ‘it is important to engage Russia from a position of strength and unity’.
Donald Trump (pictured) will leave Britain this weekend for a meeting with Mr Putin in Helsinki
Asked what he hoped to accomplish in his meeting with Mr Putin, he said they would discuss Ukraine, Syria, other parts of the Middle East and nuclear weapons. He spoke of Russia’s occupation of Crimea, but blamed President Obama for allowing Mr Putin into the region in the first place.
Sounding a defiant note, Mr Trump said: ‘President Obama failed very badly with Crimea. I don’t think we would’ve done that if I were president. I’m not bad at doing things so let’s see what happens. But this was an Obama disaster.’
Trump says he will discuss the Middle East and nuclear weapons with Vladimir Putin (pictured)
Asked about the allegations of Russian meddling in the presidential election, Mr Trump said: ‘That’s dishonest reporting. We have been far tougher on Russia than anybody. We’ve been extremely tough on Russia.’
He said allegations that Russian intelligence hacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign team was a ‘witch hunt’ and an obstacle in his relationship with Mr Putin.