Russia and the United States need to improve ties in order to avoid a nuclear holocaust, U.S. President Donald Trump has claimed.
Trump accused the “dishonest media” of risking an all-out nuclear war by jeopardizing his attempts to boost Moscow-Washington relations.
“The false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia,” he told journalists at an impromptu White House press conference on Thursday.
“It would be much easier for me to be so tough [on Russia.] But you
know what? I want to do the right thing for the American people.”
“We're a very powerful nuclear country and so [is Russia]," Trump told reporters. "I've been briefed. I can tell you one thing ... [a] nuclear holocaust would be like no other. They're a very powerful nuclear country, and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia — believe me — that's a good thing, not a bad thing,” he said.
Trump even claimed that he was prepared to spare a Russian spy vessel positioned 30 miles off the U.S. Coast in order to preserve links with Moscow.
“Hey, the greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that's 30 miles offshore right out of the water,” he said. “Everyone in this country is going to say, oh, it's so great. That's not great.”
The Trump administration is facing increasing media scrutiny following reports that top members of the president's campaign team were in “constant touch” with Kremlin officials before he was elected.
White House Security Advisor Michael Flynn handed in his resignation on Monday after reports that he discussed sanctions with Russia's U.S. ambassador before Trump took office.
Trump used the press conference as an opportunity to deny the allegations, telling reporters that he “didn't do anything for Russia.”
“I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia,” he said.
Trump instead attempted to shift the spotlight onto former Secretary of State and election rival, Hillary Clinton.
“We had Hillary Clinton try and do a reset [with Russia under the Obama administration]. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right?” he said. “A thing called nuclear weapons and other things like lots of things that are done with uranium including some bad things. Nobody talks about that.”
Clinton did not oversee such a sale of uranium to Russia during her time in government. She was in office between 2009 and 2013, when Russia's atomic energy agency, Rosatom, purchased a majority stake in a Canadian company called Uranium One.
The firm holds assets involved in mining uranium in the United States, accounting for 20 percent of the country's uranium production capacity.