US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser met Russian President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow on Wednesday and was told that Putin regrets the state of relations between their countries.
“I regret to say that Russian-American relations are not in the best shape,” Putin told John Bolton, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
“I’ve said this many times publicly, I would like to repeat it at a meeting with you: I believe that this is largely a result of the acute domestic political struggle in the United States itself,” Putin told Bolton, as cited by TASS.
Bolton is in the Russian capital to discuss a potential meeting next month between Putin and Trump. Details of a summit meeting between the two leaders will be announced on Thursday, a US official has told CNN. This official would not offer more details, but Helsinki remains a leading site contender for the two leaders’ meeting.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the meeting could be “used as an opportunity to exchange opinions on major international problems – this list is quite clear and obvious – as well as the poor state of our bilateral relations.”
Asked if Helsinki was being considered, Peskov said, “We are not ready to say anything about this yet.”
The Austrian capital Vienna had also been previously mentioned as a venue, though the US official suggested that option had now been largely ruled out.
US officials have proceeded as if Trump will meet Putin in mid-July after stops in Brussels for the NATO talks and Britain for a working visit.
But on Tuesday two sources familiar with the matter said a meeting with Putin before those stops was also possible – a prospect that’s raised concern among some European diplomats.
Putin is operating on a strict schedule; his country hosts the World Cup final on July 15.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report from Washington.