Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to answer a question about U.S. President Donald Trump at a news conference Tuesday, saying that Trump is not his bride. Putin refused to answer any questions on Trump and distanced himself from the American president.

The news conference was carried at an economic summit for BRICS countries –Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—which took place in Xiamen, China.

Putin on this year's BRICS summit. Image Credit: TIME
Putin on this year’s BRICS summit. Image Credit: TIME

The Russian president also said his government reserves the right to cut further the number of American diplomatic staff in Moscow, in response to what he described as Washington’s “boorish” treatment of Russia’s diplomatic staff in the United States.

Russian president said it’s hard to talk to people ‘who confuse Austria and Australia’

The “boorish” treatment Putin referred to was the U.S. officials’ decision to vacate Russian diplomatic premises in several American cities. The president said he would order the Russian foreign ministry to pursue legal actions over alleged violations of Russia’s property rights.

He noted that the Americans have the right to reduce the number of Russian diplomatic facilities, but the government carried out the actions in a “boorish” way.

“The only thing is that it was done in such a clearly boorish manner. That does not reflect well on our American partners,” Putin added, according to Reuters. “But it’s difficult to conduct a dialogue with people who confuse Austria and Australia. Nothing can be done about it. Probably such is the level of political culture of a certain part of the U.S. establishment.”

In regards to the vacancy notice for several Russian buildings and facilities, Putin said it was an “unprecedented thing.” He noted that’s a clear violation of Russian’s property rights, adding that he will order the Foreign Ministry to go to court, to see how “efficient the much-praised U.S. judiciary is.”

A U.S. State Department official, who spoke with Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Washington hoped to avoid further retaliatory actions with Russia, but that they were confident in the legality of the consular closure and restrictions announced last week.

Putin: ‘Trump is not my bride. We are both statesmen’

Putin also distanced himself from President Trump when asked if he was disappointed with Trump, who since the presidential campaign has been outspoken about his desires to improve ties with Russia.

“Whether I am disappointed or not, your question sounds very naïve – he is not my bride and, likewise, I am neither his bride nor bridegroom,” answered Putin. “We are both statesmen. Every nation has interests of its own. In his activities, Trump is guided by the national interests of his country, and I by the interests of mine.”

He took the time to share his hopes that Russia and the United States will find compromises and resolve bilateral and international problems, just as Trump has said. Relations between the two countries have not improved much since Trump took office, though.

In fact, the U.S. recently imposed sanctions on Russia over its interference in the 2016 U.S. election, when Russian hackers meddled with the system to favor the elected U.S. president. Russia answered by reducing the number of U.S. diplomatic staff in the country. On Tuesday, Putin threatened to reduce that number further.

The two countries have also been involved in diplomatic fights over conflicts in eastern Ukraine and Syria, where both Russia and the U.S. have different international interests.

Putin: Kim Jong Un would have the citizens eating grass before giving up nukes

During the BRICS news conference, Putin also addressed the situation with North Korea. The Russian president said that Kim Jong Un would have his people “eat grass” before giving up the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

North Korea borders both China and Russia, meaning that a U.S.-based military intervention would severely destabilize the region. Image Credit: Shifty377 / Imgur
North Korea borders both China and Russia, meaning that a U.S.-based military intervention would severely destabilize the region. Image Credit: Shifty377 / Imgur

Putin echoed a phrase told by former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the father of Benazir Bhutto, who in 1965 said that Pakistanis “will eat grass, even go hungry” to acquire nuclear weapons. The Russian leader also described the exchange between Washington and Pyongyang during the past weeks as “military hysteria.”

“This will lead to no good,” said Putin, according to NPR. “It could cause a global catastrophe and an enormous loss of life.”

Over the weekend, North Korea’s regime carried out a nuclear test, which called for worldwide condemnation. Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said during an emergency Security Council meeting on Monday that Kim’s regime was “begging for war.”

Moscow agreed to join in U.S.-proposed sanctions against North Korea in August, but Putin now sees those sanctions as “useless.” Putin noted that since North Korea has been determined to acquire nuclear weapons in recent years, he doubts whether sanctions on the country would have any deterrent effect.

Source: Reuters