Vladimir Putin says 'we are ready to cooperate' with Trump administration

Russian president softened his stance in his state of the nation address, saying ‘I am counting on joining forces with the United States’ in fight against terrorism

Vladimir Putin has softened his rhetoric about the United States in an annual speech, expressing a desire to mend ties and work together in Syria once Donald Trump takes office.

“We are ready to cooperate with the new American administration,” the Russian president said in his state of the nation address to an assembly of lawmakers and officials. “It’s important to normalise and start to develop our bilateral relations on an equal and mutually beneficial basis.”

US-Russian ties have been frigid following sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis and support for Syrian rebels fighting Russia’s ally Bashar al-Assad. But Trump has praised Putin’s leadership saying it would be “nice” to work with him to defeat the Islamic State, and in their first conversation after the election, Putin appeared to emphasise the potential for cooperation.

Putin returned to the theme in his speech on Thursday: “Of course I am counting on joining forces with the United States in the fight with the real, not made-up, threat of international terrorism,” he said.

He added that thanks to the bombing campaign in Syria, where Russia and Assad’s forces are engaged in a bloody push to take Aleppo, “terrorists have been dealt a palpable blow”.

A Russian diplomat said on Wednesday that Moscow has been in contact with Trump’s transition team about Syria.

Putin made a few jibes at his opponents in the west, saying that “unlike some foreign colleagues”, Russia was looking for friends rather than enemies. But he was less strident in his criticism than in past addresses. In 2014, he accused the west of trying to contain and weaken Russia for decades. In 2015, he lashed out at western meddling and regime change in the Middle East.

In this year’s speech, Putin said the United States and Russia had a “shared responsibility” to ensure international security and nuclear nonproliferation, noting that “attempts to break strategic parity are extremely dangerous”. During his campaign, Trump suggested Japan and South Korea should develop nuclear weapons, although he later appeared to backtrack on that statement.

Putin also stressed Russia’s growing ties with China, holding them up as a model for a “world order built not on the idea of domination by one country, no matter how strong, but on harmonious consideration of all states’ interests”.

Ahead of the hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution next year, Putin warned against similar actions to create “schisms, animosity, resentments” in the national unity. He said Russia cannot grow with a “weak government and a pliant regime directed from outside”.

The lion’s share of the speech was dedicated to domestic issues, with Putin arguing that the economy was gradually emerging from recession and sectors like agriculture and IT were growing. He touched on the traditional topic of corruption and said the ruling United Russia party had a “special responsibility” to represent constituents after winning a constitutional majority in parliament in September. Discussing healthcare, Putin did not mention Russia’s growing HIV epidemic though Thursday was World Aids Day.

According to popular blogger Ilya Varlamov, the audience burst into applause 15 times during the 69-minute speech, the lowest amount of clapping at the state of the nation address since 2005.


Alec Luhn in Moscow

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
First meeting for Trump and Putin: what will the power dynamics reveal?
World awaits signals at G20 summit as Kremlin bid for leverage over the Oval Office confronts a hemmed-in US president

Julian Borger World affairs editor

03, Jul, 2017 @5:00 AM

Article image
Trump and Putin to hold first meeting as hopes for cooperation grow dimmer
Russia’s president may use Friday’s meeting in Hamburg to get the measure of his US counterpart – and consider possibilities for finding common ground

Alec Luhn in Moscow

06, Jul, 2017 @7:00 AM

Article image
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to hold summit in July
Kremlin and White House announce details of Helsinki summit after Trump repeats Moscow’s claim that it did not meddle in US election

Andrew Roth in Moscow Julian Borger in Washington

28, Jun, 2018 @12:11 PM

Article image
US Syria policy: signs of shift as Trump son meets pro-Russia Damascus figure
The president-elect’s son reportedly met with Randa Kassis, a Syrian politician who strongly supports Russian intervention, in Paris last month

Julian Borger in Washington and Raya Jalabi in New York

23, Nov, 2016 @11:40 PM

Article image
Summit critics have Trump derangement syndrome – says Trump
US president hits out at comments about his relationship with Putin

David Smith

18, Jul, 2018 @12:35 PM

Article image
Putin proposed eastern Ukraine vote to Trump in Helsinki – report
Russian president reportedly tells diplomats Trump is considering referendum offer

Daria Litvinova in Moscow

20, Jul, 2018 @1:33 PM

Article image
Trump had undisclosed second meeting with Putin, White House confirms
A White House official has acknowledged the two presidents met again informally after their bilateral talks at the G20 summit in Germany in July

David Smith in Washington

19, Jul, 2017 @7:45 AM

Article image
The US sanctions bill is a timebomb for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin | Natalie Nougayrède
Congress now controls a process that is dangerous to both presidents – and the oligarchs are getting desperate, says Guardian columnist Natalie Nougayrède

Natalie Nougayrède

28, Nov, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
Donald Trump invites Vladimir Putin to Washington
It is not clear if Russian leader has accepted offer extended during John Bolton visit

Andrew Roth in Moscow

26, Oct, 2018 @11:27 AM

Article image
Putin says Russian role in election hacking 'theoretically possible'
President denies government involvement but acknowledges possibility ‘patriotic’ hackers might have interfered

Luke Harding and Alec Luhn in Moscow

01, Jun, 2017 @4:05 PM