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Putin spoke at his annual press conference, a day after Trump revealed his plan on Twitter, inviting criticism that the vacuum would benefit Russia, which has an important base there and is already moving to establish a permanent expanded military presence.
'I don't think they're needed. Let's not forget that the presence of [U.S.] troops there is illegitimate,' Putin told a collection of 1,700 reporters who his him with a range of queries in Moscow Thursday.
US - United - Nations - Invitation - Government
'The U.S. is there without backing from the United Nations or an invitation from the Syrian government,' Putin continued. Russia is there at the invitation of the Syrian government. But if the U.S. has decided to withdraw, that's good,'
Putin also repeatedly referred to Trump, who cancelled a planned meeting with him last month in Buenos Aires, as 'Donald,' USA Today reported.
President - Trump - Fire - Russia - Ties
President Trump continues to take fire for his Russia ties, including a newly revealed signed document from 2015 that was a letter of intent to build a Trump condo tower in Moscow. The project would have given Trump $4 million with no investment down and a percentage of revenues in exchange for branding and marketing help. The spa could have been named after Ivanka Trump under the deal, which fell through.
Putin continued to pitch the importance of improved relations between the U.S. and Russia. But he said he didn't know if he would meet Trump soon. Trump cancelled a planned meeting in November in Argentina after Russia seized Ukrainian ships after a Russian sub rammed a Ukrainian tug.
'I - Meeting - Putin
'I don't know if such a meeting will happen or not,' Putin said.
Trump ended up canceling the meeting, which was to occur in Buenos Aires shortly after longtime lawyer Michael Cohen's guilty plea, where he acknowledged lying to Congress about a Trump tower deal in Moscow.
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