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Vladimir Putin says US-Russia relations are worse since Donald Trump took office

White House accuses Russia of 'cover up' over suspected Syrian chemical weapons attack

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 12 April 2017 10:56 BST

Vladimir Putin has said trust between Russia and the United States has deteriorated since President Donald Trump took office.

"One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved, but rather has deteriorated," Mr Putin said in an interview when asked about relations with Washington since Mr Trump became president.

US intelligence agencies have accused Mr Putin of trying to help Mr Trump get elected as president.

When he was asked about accusations that Syria's government launched a chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, which killed 87 people including many children, Mr Putin said Damascus had given up its chemical weapons stocks.

He said he believed there were two main explanations for the alleged chemical weapons attack: that Syrian government air strikes had hit rebel chemical weapons stocks, releasing poisonous gas, or that the incident was a set-up to discredit the Syrian government.

Mr Putin has previously claimed fake chemical attacks in Syria could provoke further US strikes.

Russia and Iran have threatened the US over Syria

Intelligence services from several Western countries have disputed Russia's claim Syrian rebels were responsible for the chemical weapons.

The health minister in Turkey, which treated many of the attack's victims and conducted autopsies on others, said test results conducted on victims confirmed sarin gas was used.

The White House has accused Russia of being involved in a "cover up" over the suspected chemical attack.

Secretary of Defence James Mattis said the US government has “no doubt” sarin gas was used, resulting in nearly 100 deaths, in an attack perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime.

General Mattis said it was clear the “Assad regime planned it, orchestrated it, and executed” the attack.

Mr Trump said Mr Putin was backing an "evil person" in Syria and called the Syrian President "an animal."

He told Fox Business Network Mr Putin's support for Mr Assad was "very bad for Russia" and also "very bad for mankind."

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