Putin Says ‘Be Happy’ About Trump on Climate, on Everything

  • Russian leader urges American executives to support Trump
  • Anti-Russia ‘hysteria’ is like anti-semitism, Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he wouldn't judge U.S. President Donald Trump for withdrawing from the Paris climate-change agreement. He spoke during a panel at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. (Excerpt. Language: English translation. Source: APTN) (Source: Bloomberg)

Vladimir Putin shrugged off Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the most ambitious effort to combat global warming, marking the third time in two days that the Russian president came to the defense of his embattled U.S. counterpart.

“Don’t worry, be happy,” Putin said in English, responding to a question about the Paris climate accord from Megyn Kelly, the NBC television host who moderated the main event at his annual investment forum in St. Petersburg.

During an expansive three-hour panel discussion that was joined by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Kremlin leader once again rejected U.S. claims of Russian state-sponsored hacking in elections and dismissed reports of improper contact between his officials and Trump’s presidential campaign, comparing the allegations to anti-semitism.

“They blamed the Jews for everything -- we know what this sort of attitude leads to,” Putin said. “It’s easier to say that it’s not our fault, that it’s the Russians, they meddled in our elections and we’re the good guys.”

‘Take a Pill’

Putin said he wouldn’t “judge” Trump for pulling out of the climate pact, which almost 200 nations approved in 2015, including Russia. He said there’s still time to reach a new deal but not without the U.S., so the international community should “create the conditions for joint work.”

The New York property tycoon, who praised Putin repeatedly during last year’s presidential campaign, is facing multiple probes in Washington into the extent of his alleged links to the Kremlin. Putin said that Russia struck no agreements at meetings with representatives of the incoming Trump team and that Americans “should take a pill” to calm the “hysteria” over the issue.

“They didn’t talk about anything concrete, just general words about how to build relations -- shouldn’t they think about how to build relations?” he said.

Earlier on Friday, Putin made an unscheduled appearance at a roundtable for U.S. and Russian companies to urge American executives to help Trump end tensions between the two countries, which he said are at “Cold War” levels.

Help Trump

“Help us to restore normal political dialogue,” Putin told the participants. “I ask you on behalf of Russia and I urge the American side -- help the newly elected president and the new administration of the United States.”

“Of course, we’ll make every effort to ensure that business in Russia is beneficial for our American partners,” Putin said.

On Thursday, the KGB veteran told a small group of journalists at a czarist-era palace here that he likes outspoken guys like Trump and he applauded the new White House occupant for defending himself against the kind of entrenched bureaucracy that’s prevalent in capital cities around the world.

“He’s direct, open,” said Putin, who’s commanded Russia for 17 years. “He can’t be put in the same category as traditional politicians. I see great advantages because he’s a person with a fresh view.”

Artistic Hackers

Putin, who is widely expected to seek a final six-year term in March, went out of his way to use Russia’s premier business event of the year to heap praise on Trump, at one point calling him a “real man.” He also used the spotlight to intensify his rejection of allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Kremlin-backed hackers interfered in the 2016 election.

The nature of sophisticated cyberattacks are such that they can be made to look like they came from anywhere, Putin said, adding that there’s “no proof” of any involvement by Russia at the “state level.” Still, he dangled the possibility that patriotic Russians could have been behind the electronic intrusions into the campaign of Trump’s main challenger, Hillary Clinton. 
 
The St. Petersburg native, 64, compared hackers to free-spirited “artists” who may wake up one morning, see how their homeland is being maligned in the foreign media and decide to act on their own.

“If they’re patriotically minded, they start making their contribution,’’ he said.

Calculated Risk

In the carefully scripted world of Kremlin power politics, Putin is taking a calculated risk that Trump will emerge from what the U.S. president has called a ‘witch hunt” and deliver on his pledge of better relations with Russia.
The two men have spoken by phone since Trump took office in January, but have never met. They are expected to hold their first face-to-face meeting at the Group of 20 summit in Germany next month.

“Putin still has hopes of building ties,” said Gleb Pavlovsky, a political analyst who advised the Kremlin until 2011. “It would be stupid to offend Trump now.”

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