Putin sees common aims, pushing Trump on arms pact at G-20

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a reception for graduates of Russian military education institutions in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, June 27, 2019. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he does not expect any breakthroughs at the Group of 20 summit in Japan starting Friday but hopes G-20 leaders find a common understanding of what’s needed to bolster economies and financial institutions.

Putin told the Financial Times newspaper in an interview released Thursday he wants leaders at the summit “to reaffirm their intention – at least an intention” to establish rules “everyone would follow” and to have the same commitment “to strengthening international financial and trade institutions.”

The Russia leader and U.S. President Donald Trump are set to meet on the G-20 summit’s sidelines, where Putin said he plans to push Trump for an extension of the 2010 New START nuclear arms reduction treaty.

The United States gave notice this year of its intention to withdraw from a Cold War-era nuclear missile treaty with Russia is regarded as a cornerstone of European nuclear security.

The U.S. alleges Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which is set to end in August under Washington’s six-month notice unless Moscow destroys a new missile system.

Since then, Russia has focused its arms-control efforts on New START.

“I hope that I will be able to talk about it with Donald if we happen to meet in Osaka,” Putin said. “We said that we are ready to extend this treaty between the United States and Russia, but we have not seen any relevant initiative from our American partners.”

The Russian president previewed what he might argue to give the issue urgency and get some movement from the U.S.

“They keep silent while the treaty expires in 2021,” Putin said. “If we do not begin talks now, it would be over because there would be no time even for formalities.”

In the Financial Times interview, Putin shed little light on his relationship with the U.S. leader, which gained notice partly because of Trump’s of complimentary remarks about Putin.

Trump’s apparent willingness to accept Putin’s denials of Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election also has put the dynamic between the two leaders under close scrutiny.

“I do not accept many of his methods when it comes to addressing problems. But do you know what I think? I think that he is a talented person,” Putin said of Trump.

An example of his American counterpart’s talent is the overtures Trump made to thaw the chill between Moscow and Washington when Russia allegedly engaging in “mythical interference” that led to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Putin said.

“What happened in reality? Mr. Trump looked into his opponents’ attitude to him and saw changes in American society, and he took advantage of this,” the Russian leader said.

Putin also sidestepped an interview question about Russia’s presidency when his term ends in 2024.

“The current leader always supports someone, and this support can be substantive if the person supported has the respect and trust of the people,” Putin said. “But in the end, the choice is always made by the Russian people.”

“Of course, it is different from what you have in Great Britain,” Russia’s president continued. “We are a democratic country.”

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