Putin says relations with U.S. at lowest point in years
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with NBC News ahead of his meeting with US President Joe Biden next week that US-Russia relations were at their lowest level in years.
Putin and Biden will meet in Geneva on Wednesday. The White House said Biden would bring up ransomware attacks from Russia, Moscow's aggression against Ukraine, the detention of dissidents and other issues that have irritated the relationship.
"We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years," Putin said, according to an NBC translation of excerpts from an interview broadcast on Friday.
Putin praised former President Donald Trump as "an extraordinary personality, a talented individual" and said that as a professional politician, Biden was "radically different" from Trump.
When asked if Biden called him a murderer in a March interview, Putin said he had heard dozens of such allegations. "That's not something I'm worried about," Putin said.
At the beginning of an eight-day visit to Europe this week, Biden said: "We are not looking for a conflict with Russia."
"We want a stable and predictable relationship ... but it was clear to me: The United States will respond robustly and sensibly if the Russian government engages in harmful activities."
Putin was asked about several Russian dissidents whose death Moscow was blamed for, including ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned in 2006. Putin dismissed the question as a "verbal indigestion". He said some of those responsible for the death were in prison.
Regarding the recent ransomware attacks that the United States traced back to Russia, Putin denied any knowledge of the hacking attacks and asked Biden to reach an agreement with him on cyberspace, NBC News told.
Putin also rejected a report in the Washington Post this week that Russia is preparing to deliver an advanced satellite to Iran that would allow it to pursue potential military targets across the Middle East.
"It's just fake news. At least I don't know anything about something like that," Putin said, according to NBC News. "It's just nonsense rubbish."
(Reporting by Eric Beech and Mohammad Zargham; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Cynthia Osterman)
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