Russia's Vladimir Putin answered questions at his annual marathon news conference Thursday, and President Trump was a key topic. Putin delivered both praise and criticism, with two subjects generating the most attention:
- Praise: Putin loves Trump's controversial decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. "On this, Donald is right. I agree with him," Putin said, reports the Washington Post. Putin maintained that ISIS has suffered "serious blows," echoing Trump's contention that the group has been defeated. But Putin also added that he'll believe the withdrawal is legit only when he sees it. "The United States has been in Afghanistan already for 17 years, and almost every year they say they’re withdrawing their troops."
- Criticism: Putin criticized Trump's moves on nuclear weapons, specifically the decision to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the US reluctance to renegotiate the separate New START pact, notes the AP. He complained that the world seemed to be moving toward the idea of using low-yield nukes and faulted the US for considering using ballistic missiles with conventional warheads, which he said could be mistaken for nuclear missiles. "If that happens, it could lead to the destruction of the entire civilization and maybe even our planet."
- Warning II: "We know how to secure our safety," said Putin, per NBC News, still on the topic of nukes. "But, in general, it's very bad for humanity as it takes us closer to a very dangerous line."
- Trump, on Syria: Trump has tweeted multiple times about Syria already Thursday morning, saying his decision was "no surprise" and asking, "Does the USA want to be the Policeman of the Middle East, getting NOTHING but spending precious lives and trillions of dollars protecting others who, in almost all cases, do not appreciate what we are doing?"
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