Putin says Trump's business record shows he is a 'smart man'

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said Donald Trump’s business success is evidence the US president-elect is a “smart man”.

In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Putin also said Trump will “quickly realize” his responsibilities as the next leader of the United States.

“Trump was a businessman and an entrepreneur,” Putin told Russia’s NTV network. “Today’s he’s already a state actor, already head of the United States of America, one of the world’s leading nations, one of the world’s leading economies, leading military powers.

“He could achieve success in business, which says that he’s a smart man. And if he’s a smart man, that means that he’ll fully and quickly enough realize this different level of responsibility. We expect that he will act with this perspective in mind.”

On Thursday, in his annual state of the nation address, Putin said he hoped to mend US-Russian relations after years of bitter disagreement, economic sanctions and conflict via opposing factions, as in Syria and Ukraine.

“We are ready to cooperate with the new American administration,” Putin told lawmakers and officials at the Kremlin. “It’s important to normalize and start to develop our bilateral relations on an equal and mutually beneficial basis.”

Trump, who has been accused of being too close to the Putin regime, has said he wants “to get along with Russia” and restore military cooperation in the Middle East.

In the interview broadcast on Sunday, Putin said western leaders should listen more closely to views from governments in Russia and the Middle East.

“They listen to those whose voices are loud enough to be heard,” he said. “And if it’s some insignificant issue in international relations, then, of course, you can save face. But the game will still turn out poorly with regard to those who were not considered important enough partners.”

In his speech, Putin said he expected to work with the US in the Middle East, where Russian forces have for months bombed Syrian cities that are not under the control of his ally, Bashar al-Assad.

Barack Obama has called for Assad to step down, but US efforts to negotiate with Russia and Syria – while fighting jihadi groups and supporting rebels – have repeatedly failed.

“Of course I am counting on joining forces with the United States in the fight with the real, not invented, threat of international terrorism,” Putin said.

Putin says US-Russia cooperation in world’s interest

Last month, in their first phone call after the US election, Trump and Putin spoke about cooperation and “the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other”, according to a Kremlin account of the call.

Russian officials have long accused counterparts in the Obama administration of meddling abroad, for instance in 2011, when Putin claimed that Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, was fomenting dissent against him within Russia.

Trump’s transition team said the president-elect told Putin he was “very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia”.

Officials in the Obama administration accused Russia of hacking Democratic party servers as a ploy to interfere with the election, which Putin denied. Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly praised Putin’s “strong” leadership.

Trump also falsely said that Putin had called him “a genius”. The Russian president actually called Trump “flamboyant” and “talented”.

Trump’s foreign policy intentions remain largely unknown, and in his Thursday speech Putin did not fully embrace the president-elect. He warned, for instance, that the US and Russia had a “shared responsibility” to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, a nod to Trump’s suggestion that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear arms.

“Attempts to break strategic parity are extremely dangerous,” Putin said.

Trump has not named his choice for secretary of state, the diplomat who would lead US affairs abroad. Mitt Romney, one of the men courting Trump for the job, said in 2012 that Russia was the US’s “number one geopolitical foe”.


Alan Yuhas

The GuardianTramp

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