President Vladimir Putin has on Saturday said that the prominence of Russia and himself as an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign indicates the country’s growing importance.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments about Mr. Putin’s power and support have brought rebuke from critics who suggest he would take a soft line in dealing with the Kremlin. Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton has said Trump’s attitude toward Putin is unpatriotic and “scary.”
In Kyrgyzstan on Saturday, Mr. Putin said “so far as the use of Russia and the president of Russia in the U.S. presidential campaign, I want to hope that this is connected with the growing influence and significance of Russia.”
But, he added, “We can see an attempt to revive the image of the so-called Evil Empire and use it to frighten the society.”
Mr. Putin also expressed frustration at Washington’s refusal to publish the Syrian cease-fire deal reached with Russia, but said Moscow won’t unilaterally release it.
“I don’t really understand why we have to keep such an agreement closed,” Mr. Putin was quoted as saying. He suggested Washington’s resistance stems from a hope to retain the combat potential of forces fighting the Syrian government.
“This comes from the problems the U.S. is facing on the Syrian track—they still cannot separate the so-called healthy part of the opposition from the half-criminal and terrorist elements,” he said. “In my opinion, this comes from the desire to keep the combat potential in fighting the legitimate government of Bashar al-Assad. But this is a very dangerous route.”
Also Saturday, Russia’s military said Syrian rebels have violated the cease-fire 55 times over the past day, including with strikes on military and civilian targets in the divided northern city of Aleppo.
The Interfax news agency quoted Col. Sergei Kopytsin as saying Saturday that mortar fire and improvised rockets struck Aleppo 26 times. Russian news agencies cited another official, Lt. Gen. Vladimir Savchenko, as saying there had been 55 violations throughout the country.
The cease-fire, brokered by Moscow and Washington, went into effect on Monday. The truce has largely held, despite dozens of alleged violations by both sides. It was supposed to pave the way for aid shipments into besieged rebel-held areas of Aleppo, but convoys have yet to enter.
Source: The Wall Street Journal