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Putin Shrugs Off Trump's Tweet On Expanding U.S. Nuclear Capability

During his annual news conference in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he agreed with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that even someone lying on their sofa could have hacked the Democratic National Committee.
Pavel Golovkin

Russian President Vladimir Putin downplayed Donald Trump's tweet Thursday calling for the United States to expand its nuclear capabilities.

"There's nothing out of the ordinary here," Putin said, since the U.S. president-elect had advocated a stronger military throughout his election campaign.

Putin took a deep dive into U.S. politics on Friday during his annual news conference in Moscow, praising Trump and skewering President Obama and Hillary Clinton. During a marathon Q&A session that lasted almost four hours, reporters kept returning to the accusations of Kremlin interference in the U.S. presidential election. Putin took them on with gusto, at times sounding like a Trump surrogate.

"The current administration and the Democratic Party leadership are trying to blame all their failures on external factors," Putin said.

The Russian president said he agreed with Trump that anybody — even someone lying on their sofa — could have hacked the Democratic National Committee. The most important thing, according to Putin, is the information that came out of the hack, namely the machinations among top Democrats.

America's "ruling party," he said, has clearly forgotten the original meaning of the word "democratic."

The fact that a growing number of Republicans has a favorable view of Putin shows that a "significant portion" of Americans shares the concerns and "traditional values" of Russians, Putin said, adding that mutual sympathy could be the basis for closer relations in the future.

He took issue with Obama's assertion last week that late Republican President Ronald Reagan "would roll over in his grave" because of Putin's popularity in the GOP. On the contrary, Putin said, Reagan would be happy that Republicans are winning everywhere and had Trump, who understood the mood of the people.

"He went all the way, even though only we believed that he would win," Putin said to laughter and applause.

On Friday, Trump said in a statement that he received "a very nice letter" from Putin, adding that "his thoughts are so correct."

In an indication that he's through with Obama, Putin said it's more likely that great Democrats are turning over in their graves. Unlike President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who united Americans, the outgoing administration divided them, Putin said.

Even as he insisted on Russia's inability to sway the U.S. elections, Putin didn't hesitate to criticize the "archaic nature" of the Electoral College.

What he didn't mention is that Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lucian Kim is NPR's international correspondent based in Moscow. He has been reporting on Europe and the former Soviet Union for the past two decades.
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