MOSCOW, Ru. – Russian president Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that he has declined an invitation to attend the upcoming 2017 presidential inauguration in Washington. Putin said his decision to turn down the presidential invite was due in part to “baseless accusations” by American intelligence officials that Russian hackers intervened in the U.S. election to ensure a Trump victory.
“False allegations such as these can be very hurtful,” an emotional Putin told attendees of an economic forum in Moscow this week. The former KGB officer said the United States has an “unfortunate history” of levying claims against nations whose policies it disagrees with. “Like a spoiled child, the [Obama administration] makes its petty pronouncements to the world, meanwhile refusing to open a dialogue with Russia,” President Putin charged.
Putin’s decision to remain in Moscow rather than attend the inaugural ceremony as a distinguished guest of President-elect Donald J. Trump comes as a major blow to the incoming American president who has expressed a willingness to sideline U.S. interests at home and abroad in favor of catering to the needs and wishes of Russia.
On Tuesday, President-elect Trump tapped Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson – a longtime friend and confidant of Vladimir Putin – to serve as the next Secretary of State. Having received the prestigious Order of Friendship award for his role in securing a lucrative oil partnership with Russia, Tillerson will serve as Putin’s man in Washington, providing a direct line of communication between the Kremlin and the Oval Office.
“Before a relationship can be established, Mr. Trump will have to rein in his intelligence agencies,” explained Sergei Mikhailov, a political analyst at The Moscow Times. “In order for a republic to function cohesively, the limbs must work together in support of the body, or in this case, the brain.” Mikhailov warned that some in the Russian government have privately expressed concerns that Donald Trump could be seen as weak in terms of his inability to promote nationalism and pro-Russian values in the United States.
However, as Mikhailov pointed out, it’s still “too early in the game” for the Kremlin to start weighing options for a regime change. “We’ve come a long way since the sixties,” he said before adding, “But make no mistake, Russia is watching closely to see if Mr. Trump has what it takes to lead his country in the right direction.”