President Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday as he defended Russia’s stance against the U.K. government’s decision to exit the European Union, saying he hopes “the Russians will have to understand” why they have not done so.
Trump’s comments came after the Kremlin-funded television channel RT said that a top Trump adviser had told a group of Russian journalists that Putin would be happy to take the United States out of the EU if they did not accept that move.
The Trump administration has repeatedly dismissed the accusations as a “Russian hoax.”
The administration has said that it has the full support of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
Trump tweeted a video on Friday that was recorded by a Russian translator, but did not mention Putin by name.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the comments from The Associated Press.
Trump, who was a vocal supporter of Putin’s presidential campaign and a backer of the Kremlin’s intervention in Ukraine, is set to visit Moscow in early July.
He also is expected to meet with President Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in Russia’s intervention.