21 Dec 2018

Putin: West disrespecting voters' choices of Trump and Brexit

10:42 am on 21 December 2018

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has accused the UK and US political classes of "disrespecting" the public by questioning the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump's election.

Russia president Vladimir Putin.

Photo: AFP

"They don't want to recognise [President Trump's] victory. That's disrespect of voters," Mr Putin said.

"It's the same in Britain: Brexit happened, but nobody wants to implement it."

The president's comments came at his year-end press conference in Moscow.

Russia's leader also said British Prime Minister Theresa May has no choice but to follow through with Brexit, as failing to do so would undermine UK democracy.

"She must enact the will of the people, expressed during the referendum," he said. "Or otherwise it is not a referendum at all: doing it over and over again if someone did not like it [the result]. Is it a democracy?"

Mr Putin described relations with the UK as in "deadlock," saying it was in both countries' interests to improve matters.

"Are we interested in restoring full relations with Britain? Yes, we are interested," he said. "And we know that British [companies] work pretty actively here."

Nuclear threat

Mr Putin said there is a growing tendency to underestimate the threat of nuclear war, and criticised President Trump's plan to withdraw from a key nuclear treaty with Russia.

"We are essentially witnessing the breakdown of the international arms control order and (the start of) an arms race," he said.

Mr Trump said the US would pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty because Russia had "violated" it.

The deal bans ground-launched medium-range missiles, with a range of 500-5,500km.

Russia's president also accused the US of having world domination on its mind.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump announced that he would withdraw US troops from Syria, saying Islamic State forces had been defeated there.

Mr Putin cautiously welcomed the move, but questioned whether it would actually happen.

"We don't see signs of a pullout," he said, adding that the US "has been in Afghanistan 17 years, and they always say they're withdrawing".


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