Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced the US opposition to his American counterpart Donald Trump as “pathetic, worthless people” willing to sacrifice Moscow-Washington relations to their own interests.
Putin made the remarks in a strongly-worded speech to Russian diplomats in the capital Moscow on Thursday, three days after holding a historic summit with Trump in the Finnish capital Helsinki that has already ignited a political firestorm in the United States.
“We see that there are forces in the US that are easily ready to sacrifice Russian-American relations for their own ambitions,” Putin said, adding, “There are forces in the US that put their narrow party interests higher than national ones.”
However, he admitted that those forces were “rather powerful and strong” in selling “illogical things that are hard to digest” to millions” of American citizens.
The Monday meeting between the two leaders was heavily overshadowed by Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, a claim made by US intelligence agencies following Trump's surprising victory against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
The Kremlin has time and again rejected the meddling allegations, describing them as utterly absurd.
However, US Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials in connection with the allegations last week, angering Moscow. The 11-account indictment says the Russians began cyber-attacks in March 2016 on the email accounts of staff for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
On Monday, Putin said that the accusations were ridiculous, while stressing that it was not possible for someone acting from the Russian territory to be able to influence choice of millions of people in another country.
Trump, for his part, has repeatedly denied allegations that his campaign colluded with Russians and has condemned the investigations. But he stunned both allies and enemies, who criticized him for taking Putin's word over that of US intelligence that the Kremlin did not meddle in the 2016 US presidential election.
Trump stirred further outrage after refusing to push for the extradition of 12 Russian military intelligence officers, who US officials claim orchestrated the cyber attacks.
Many have already accused Trump of being a “traitor,” saying his performance in the Finnish capital only deepened rumors that Moscow might have compromising information on him and sparked talk of fresh sanctions against Russia. However, he considered the summit a “great success” and anticipated a “second meeting” with Putin.
Elsewhere in his remarks on Thursday, the Russian leader said that his country was still open to establishing a good relationship with the US.
"We need a new positive agenda, aimed at working together and finding common ground,” Putin said, stressing, “It would be naive to think that problems that have been accumulating for years would be solved in a matter of hours.”