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Trump receives backlash after 'US kills too' comment

Trump has reaffirmed his "respect" for Vladimir Putin [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 February, 2017

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US President Donald Trump was on the receiving end of a backlash yet again after admitting the US 'kills too' when pressed on relations with Russia's Putin.
President Donald Trump received a backlash on Sunday after suggesting the US kills as frequently as Russia, in an interview where he reaffirmed "respect" for Vladimir Putin despite his role in assassinations in the country.

Trump - now two weeks into his four-year term - showed no signs of yielding to demands from within his own Republican Party to distance himself from President Vladimir Putin.

"I do respect him. Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn't mean I'll get along with them," Trump said in an excerpt of a Super Bowl interview with Fox News's Bill O'Reilly that will air in full on Sunday.

When pressed in relation to Putin's alleged links to the extrajudicial killing of journalists and dissidents, Trump said, "There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers."

"You think our country is so innocent?" Trump asked rhetorically.

Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia and advisor to former president Barack Obama, described Trump's comments as "disgusting."

"This moral equivalency that Trump continues to draw between the USA and Russia is disgusting (and inaccurate)," he said on Twitter.

Mainstream Republicans have repeatedly called on Trump to distance himself from Putin, with little impact. 

Throughout the election campaign, Trump refused to criticise the Russian leader, saying better relations with the Kremlin would be in the US national interest.

The new president has advocated working with Russia to combat the Islamic State group in Syria, where Moscow has deployed aircraft, naval assets and troops to support Bashar al-Assad's regime. 

In December, US intelligence agencies went public with their view that Russia conducted a hack-and-release campaign aimed at swinging the US election in Trump's favour.

Trump's repeated criticism of NATO - a common target for Putin - has only fuelled suspicions that Trump is ready to side with Moscow over allies in Europe.

Across Europe, there are growing concerns that the continent might be wedged between a hostile Russia and a hostile United States.

During the Trump-Putin call, the Kremlin said the two men had discussed improving economic relations, a potential signal of Trump's willingness to lift sanctions on Russia.

Asked whether the administration would be willing to ease sanctions while Russia is violating ceasefire agreements, Pence demurred.

"I think that's a question that will be answered in the months ahead. And it just simply all depends," he said.

"If we have opportunities to work together, I think the president is looking for an opportunity to begin that relationship anew. 

"But make no mistake about it - those decisions will await action. And they'll be very dependent on how the Russians respond in the days ahead."

Trump has been highly complementary of Putin, whose relations with the Obama administration and European Union are strained - especially in regards with war-torn Syria, where both nations stand on opposing fronts.

But the situation might see a "radical change" soon, according to Russian parliament speaker Vyacheslav Volodin who confirmed in November that Putin and Trump share views on a wide range of matters.

"Putin and Trump have numerous common points and shared views," Volodin told NTV Channel, adding that Obama deliberately "whipped up tensions, therefore contributing to the growing animosity" between the two countries.

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