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Putin Hits Out at Trump Critics in the U.S. for Discrediting Summit

Vladimir Putin has stood up for his buddy Donald Trump, saying the U.S. president’s critics back home are trying to discredit the progress the two made at their Helsinki summit. Trump has come under severe criticism for his mishandling of the talks where he appeared to back Putin’s position on Russian interference in U.S. elections over his own intelligence services. Speaking to Russian diplomats Thursday, Putin hailed the talks as “successful” and, although he said current U.S.-Russia relations are “at some ways worse than during the Cold War,” he said the summit was the start of “the path to positive change.” Taking aim at Trump’s domestic critics, he said unnamed “forces” in the U.S. were trying to prevent any improvements in relations—specifically referencing cooperation in Syria. Russia also slammed suggestions from some U.S. lawmakers that Trump’s interpreter should be forced to testify before Congress to reveal what the president promised to Putin and vice versa. Konstantin Kosachev, head of the upper house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said such a move would threaten “the whole idea of diplomacy.”