Russian President Vladimir Putin has thrust himself into the global spotlight by saying that it would be nice if NATO were “falling apart” and implying that the U.S. is stupid.
As Putin’s words from an interview with NBC News’ Megyn Kelly are coming under increased scrutiny, there are several key takeaways from the controversial interview with the Russian President, whose government is being accused of meddling in 2016 U.S. presidential election and having secret ties to U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign:
- Putin implied that the Americans are “stupid” for trying to blame the Russian government for getting Trump elected by rigging the election process;
- The Russian President wondered if anyone has a “pill that will cure this hysteria,” referring to the FBI investigating any contacts between the Russians and Trump’s campaign;
- Putin ridiculed the Russia probe for investigating alleged meetings between Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. and Trump’s campaign, saying, “What else is the ambassador supposed to do?” and wondering, “Have you lost your mind?”;
- Putin said that the NATO alliance “falling apart” would be a good thing for Moscow;
- The Russian President also joked about the Paris climate change agreement, which became one of the most talked about subjects in the wake of Thursday’s decision by Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 accord signed by nearly all countries on the planet.
Putin admits meetings between Trump’s campaign and Russians are ‘normal’
Putin is a tough dialog partner. He can joke his way out a question, dodge serious questions by raising his tone and catching the interviewer off guard, among other things. When Kelly sat down to talk to the Russian President at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, she had to confront the challenges of talking to a KGB agent from the days of the Soviet Union. And the conversation turned out to be quite informative and fascinating.
After all, this is the conversation in which Putin pulled the curtain back a bit more on his own stance on Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. 2016 election. And judging by the Russian President’s tone, he is none too pleased about the ongoing investigation, which recently focused on Trump’s inner circle, his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Kushner reportedly met with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, in December – weeks after Trump’s surprise election victory – and the FBI suspects the U.S. President’s son-in-law could be responsible for establishing secret communications with the Russian government and Trump’s campaign officials.
Putin ridiculed the investigation by saying that it was normal for a diplomat such as Kislyak to establish contacts with a newly-elected president. “What else is the ambassador supposed to do?” Putin asked, before saying that the Russian ambassador is “paid for holding meetings” and “discussing current affairs.”
“Have you lost your mind? Maybe someone has a pill that will cure this hysteria,” Putin, visibly irritated by the question about Russia’s alleged ties to Trump campaign, exclaimed.
Putin implies Americans and Democrats are ‘stupid’
The Russian President also dismissed reports that his country’s officials allegedly discussed sanctions in meetings with Trump’s campaign and said there never were agreements with Trump’s aides about lifting the U.S.-imposed economic sanctions against Russia.
But holding meetings with Trump’s campaign figures is not the only thing the Russians are being accused of by the U.S. intelligence agencies and the Democrats, whose front-runner candidate Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election to Trump.
The FBI is also investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. election with the U.S. intelligence community concluding that the Russians allegedly attempted to rig the election on behalf of Trump. But Putin has dismissed the conclusions, saying that they are nothing but “speculation and conclusions based on speculation.”
The Russian President said the Democrats, having lost the election to Trump, trying to blame the Russians for their own failure reminds him of “anti-Semitism,” before saying that, “A stupid man who can’t do anything right would blame everything on the Jews,” possibly implying that Democrats and Americans blaming Russia for Trump presidency are “stupid.”
Putin says it would be nice if NATO were ‘falling apart’
Putin had no intention to give up even when Kelly pressed the Russian President to explain the alleged Russian “fingerprints” that the combined intelligence agencies’ declassified report claims were found in meddling in the U.S. presidential election to help Trump defeat Clinton. While those “fingerprints” found by the agencies are Russia’s IP addresses, Putin downplayed the report’s conclusion by saying that IP addresses could’ve been faked by anyone just to blame the Russians.
Saying that “experts in information technology can invent anything,” the Russian President yet again lambasted the Democrats for pointing their finger of blame at the Russians.
During his talk with Kelly, Putin also said outright that the NATO alliance “falling apart” would be a good thing for Russia, but the Russian President was quick to add that he doesn’t see the alliance crumbling “just yet.” “In a sense that maybe, they [NATO] should completely be falling apart, that will help, but we don’t see that falling apart just yet,” Putin said.
Putin jokes about climate change: blames bad weather on Trump
Putin’s interview with Kelly came less than 24 hours after Trump had pulled out from the Paris climate change agreement, and that certainty became one of the topics to discuss with the Russian President. But Putin opted to take a humorous tone and instead of discussing seriously what climate change experts call one of the most pressing issues of our time, the Russian President was joking.
While one can argue that the seriousness of climate change, which is supposed to be tackled by the Paris accord by keeping rising average global temperature beneath 2°C, leaves no room for jokes, Putin did not shy away from joking about it. Saying that “we [in Russia] don’t feel here that the temperature is rising here,” Putin joked that Russians should “thank” U.S. President Trump for making it snow and rain in Russia on the day of the interview.
But the Russian President was quick to add that even though it is “extremely cold” in Russia, his people won’t blame Trump and “American imperialism” for everything, including the oddly bad weather in early June. Putin’s humorous remark was met with laughter and applause in the audience.