In a lengthy interview, Russian president Vladimir Putin blamed American political conflict for both the U.S. indictment of Russian citizens over election meddling, and for the fact that Putin and President Donald Trump have not yet held a formal summit.
Asked by Austria’s national public broadcast provider, ORF, about why there has not yet been a summit, Putin replied: “You should ask our colleagues in the United States. In my opinion, this is the result of the ongoing acute political struggle in the United States. Indeed, Donald Trump and I have, firstly, met more than once at various international venues and secondly, we regularly talk over the phone.”
In February, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians for allegedly impersonating Americans and contacting “unwitting” Trump campaign officials in an attempt to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.
“As for personal meetings, I think that the possibility of these meetings depends to a large extent on the internal political situation in the United States,” Putin continued. “The congressional election campaign is getting under way and then there will be the next presidential election, and the President of the United States is coming under attack over various matters. I think this is the main reason.”
Putin mentioned that he had spoken on the phone with Trump recently about their shared intent to avoid an arms race, adding “I hope that someday this work in the interests of the United States and Russia, indeed in the interests of the whole world, will begin, including between us personally.”
Putin also said that he has “high hopes” about the U.S.-North Korea summit.