Washington: Facing criticism for cosying up to Russia, US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he does not know his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, nor has any deals in Russia. “I don’t know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy – yet Obama can make a deal with Iran, #1 in terror, no problem,” Mr Trump tweeted to his 24.1 million followers.
In recent days, Mr Trump has been slammed by the opposition parties for saying that he wants to work with Russia and Putin in the fight against ISIS.
Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, alleged that Mr Trump has made clear he does not believe in America’s exceptionalism when he equated the United States to Vladimir Putin and his murderous regime.
“Such a ridiculous statement sends a signal that this White House does not in fact prioritise the United States but increasingly champions a Russia First Policy.
“It is offensive to the American people, veterans, and brave servicemen and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect our principles, liberties, and way of life,” he said.
“Political opponents and independent journalists in Russia have been attacked, jailed, and killed under Putin’s regime. Anna Politkovskaya, a world renowned journalist was killed in her apartment building,” he said.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down steps from the Kremlin. On Tuesday morning, another Russian opposition leader, Vladimir Kara-Murza, lies in a coma, likely the latest victim of the poisoning attacks that have become a periodic calling card of Mr Putin’s thugs, he added.
“Equating our country with an authoritarian, murderous regime is outrageous and reprehensible, even for Trump. All elected officials in the United States have a responsibility to speak up against the President’s dangerous rhetoric,” Mr Cardin said.
Earlier, top US intelligence agencies has told Mr Trump that Russia has interfered in the presidential election by hacking Democratic party computer networks, in the process helping political outsider Trump defeat his strong opponent and former Sectary of State Hillary Clinton.
Mr Trump has rejected assertions that Russian interference influenced the election in his favour.