By RFE RL
By Mike Eckel
(RFE/RL) — U.S. President Donald Trump repeated his arguments that Washington should have a better relationship with Moscow, as he declined to describe Russia’s actions in Europe in recent years as a threat.
Speaking August 28 at a joint news conference with visiting Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Trump was asked by Finnish reporters about tensions with Russia, and specifically whether he considered it a threat.
“I consider many countries as a security threat unfortunately,” he said. “I would consider many countries threats but these are all threats that we will be able to handle if we have to.”
Asked further about recent joint naval exercises held by Russia and China in the Baltic Sea, and upcoming war games scheduled for next month in regions bordering the Baltic countries, Trump replied: “We are very protective of that region.”
“That’s all I can say. We are very, very protective. We have great friends there,” he said.
“I say it loud and clear: I’ve been saying it for years. I think it’s a good thing if we have great relationships, or at least good relationships, with Russia,” he said. “That’s very important and I believe that someday that will happen. It’s a big country. It’s a nuclear country. It’s a country that we should get along with.”
Trump has repeatedly called for a more conciliatory approach toward Russia, even as suspicions mount about interactions between current and former Trump associates and Russian officials.
The FBI has had a criminal investigation ongoing since last year, a probe since taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller.
And at least three different congressional committees are looking into those suspicious interactions, as well as U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia interfered in last year’s presidential election.