09 april

Vladimir Putin attended the plenary session of 5th International Arctic Forum The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue.

Read the full transcript: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/60250

John Fraher (moderator): ...At the Helsinki summit, Trump invited you to Washington. Now that the Mueller report is out of the way, do you think that Trump would be better able to deliver on his promise of good relations with Russia? And are you expecting an invitation to the White House this year?

Vladimir Putin: You know, we have a good book called The Twelve Chairs and there is a line in it: “Come visit us, my old mother will be very happy. But he did not leave his address.”

The time must be ripe. We said fr om the very start that this notorious commission of Mr Mueller will not find anything because nobody knows this better than us. Russia has not interfered in any elections in the United States. This is the first point.

Second, there was no collusion between Trump and Russia, which is what Mr Mueller was looking for. I was not acquainted with Mr Trump. Yes, he came to Moscow but as a businessman and, frankly speaking, this was not a big event for us. This is sheer nonsense designed exclusively for domestic consumption and used in the internal politics of the US.

So we knew a mountain was being made out of a molehill, so to speak, because we knew how it would end beforehand. I was telling you this the whole time. Now it has come to pass, but it did not make the domestic political situation in the US any easier. Now new excuses are being sought to attack President Trump.

It seems to me (excuse the digression) that this points to something of a crisis in the US political system itself. Look at what is happening. The groups that are attacking the duly elected President do not agree with the choice made by the American people. They are nullifying the result.

This amounts to a crisis of the political system. We have never seen anything like this in US history before. Yes, there may be a fierce campaign but once a nominee wins, everyone accept it. This was always the case and all people united around the head of state to meet common national challenges. We are not seeing anything of the kind in the US now. On the contrary, the rift is deepening.

Do you understand what happened? They put their group or party interests above the national interest. This is what happened.

I am not at all defending President Trump. Our positions differ on lots of issues. Numerous sanctions have been introduced against Russia under his administration. Naturally, we do not and will never agree with this and consider it counterproductive. But if full-scale, equitable dialogue between the US and Russia is restored, including the discussion of disarmament issues that are of interest both to us and all humankind, we will only be too happy. We are ready for this.

John Fraher: President Trump says he feels vindicated by the Mueller report. President Putin, on a personal level, after everything that has happened – President Trump calls it a witch hunt – after everything that has happened, do you feel happy for him on a personal level? On the outcome of the Mueller report?

Vladimir Putin: President Trump knows best. We know from US history what a witch hunt is. It is a dark chapter in US history. We would rather it never repeats.

John Fraher: I have one final question on this. At the famous Helsinki press conference… One more, last one, I promise. You said that you hoped Trump would win the 2016 election because he promised to make relations with Russia better. Right now, do you want him to win again in 2020?

Vladimir Putin: You know, I have already said that we disagree on many international issues, on problems related to the resolution of some crises. But we also have some elements of cooperation. However different the approaches we take to settling the Syrian crisis, there is still cooperation there, we work together.

We have common problems in the Arctic, and we have gathered here, by the way, to solve and discuss them. The United States has many interests of its own in the Arctic zone. We face many problems related to climate change in general. We know that the US did not sign the Paris Agreement, and the US Administration has its own reasons and logic. I am not among those who feel the current Administration should be attacked for this, we just need to engage in dialogue.

And in that case I think we will be able to try to find a common solution. Because it is hard to expect effective work from the international community without US participation in the process, or China’s or India’s participation, for example. The US is a big emitter. It is obvious, and we must acknowledge it. This is why a solution must be found, the US should be brought on board and invited to engage in dialogue. On the whole, as I see it, Mr Trump does not refuse. That is number one, and even number two.

Third, I feel that many bilateral matters are currently perceived under the pressure of the domestic political situation. We hope when the situation gets back to normal, prospects will open for cooperation, including bilateral, on the issues I mentioned. And they include terrorism, epidemics and the environment. Actually, there are many issues, including arms control.

I think we are all interested in that but we will start working when the conditions in the US are right. It does not depend on whether we want it or not. What does that even mean, to want it or not? This is not an area wh ere such categories can be applied. We respect the choice of the American people. We are ready to work with their president whoever it might be...