© kremlin
While Washington constantly talks of the need for international harmony, it has rarely played a positive role in it in recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, stressing that stability is vital in world politics.

Asked during an interview with NBC's Keir Simmons, broadcast on Monday, whether he would support a call for predictability and stability from his US counterpart, Joe Biden, when the two leaders meet in Geneva on Wednesday, Putin said that it "is the most important value... in international affairs." However, he added, "on the part of our US partners, this is something that we haven't seen in recent years."

Simmons pointed out that Biden has previously accused Russia of causing "a lot of instability and unpredictability," with Putin responding that Moscow is concerned about the impact of American foreign policy as well. The Russian president pointed to what he described as Washington's role in destabilizing Libya in 2011, as well as across much of the Middle East.

Putin also said that, when he asked US officials about their views on Syria's political trajectory in the event of President Bashar Assad's departure from power, they said they had no clear picture of what might follow.

"If you don't know what will happen next, why change what there is?" the Russian president asked, adding that Syria could "be a second Libya or another Afghanistan" if Washington and its allies had succeeded in removing Assad from power. Russia has supported the Syrian government in the conflict, following a request from Damascus in 2015.

Eventually, it is America's unilateralism and Washington's desire to impose its will on others that disrupts stability in the international arena, Putin claimed. "That's not how stability is achieved," he said, adding that only dialogue can ensure security and peace.

"Let us sit down together, talk, look for compromise solutions that are acceptable for all the parties. That is how stability is achieved," the president urged.

Putin's comments came ahead of his first meeting with Biden since the US leader took office in January. The Russian president has said that US-Russia relations are at their "lowest point in recent years" in the run-up to the summit.

Biden said he wants to use the session to help build a "stable and predictable relationship" with Moscow. Yet, at the G7 summit, held in England last week, he also insisted that the US "will respond in a robust and meaningful way" to any "harmful activities" by Russia.

Surprising US hasn't blamed Russia for starting BLM movement

BLM protest flag burn

FILE PHOTO. Protesters set fire to an American flag at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, amid racial inequality protests in Washington, U.S. Reuters / Tom Brenner; (inset) Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reuters / Dmitri Lovetsky.
Discussing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in an interview with NBC, broadcast on Monday, the Russian leader said there were "some grounds" for the outcry over racism in America and a number of other Western nations over the course of 2020. However, he added that the outrage had been "used by one of the political forces domestically in the course of election campaigns" in the US.

Putin railed against what he described as "unfounded" accusations that the Kremlin had been behind the supposed election interference and cyberattack campaigns, saying he was "surprised that we haven't yet been accused of provoking the BLM movement." The president joked that the allegation "would have been a good line of attack," while insisting, "We didn't do that."

Comment: Those fostering the discord using the BLM movement as cover probably don't want to draw attention to its less than organic roots: Antifa wants to lead African-Americans to their slaughter to spark a race war

Leading figures in the Democratic Party have publicly embraced BLM, with much of the rhetoric throughout the civil unrest aimed at the policies of then-president Donald Trump, and the issue of racism becoming a major focus in last year's elections. However, there has been disquiet among some activists since Biden took office in January, with his White House being accused of refusing to take their requests for meetings.

Mass gatherings held in the wake of the killing of George Floyd were supported by many Democrats as an exception to public health measures designed to slow the spread of Covid-19. A number of politicians were also accused of attempting to justify the rioting and looting that accompanied the protests in some areas.

Putin expressed a more conservative attitude towards BLM. He said Russia, like the USSR before it, was sympathetic towards the fight for equality by black Americans, but cautious about the more extreme element of the movement.

"We support African Americans' fight for their rights," he said, adding that Moscow was "against any ... kinds of extremism, which, unfortunately, sometimes ... we witness these days."

"No matter how noble the goals that somebody is driven by, if it reaches certain extremes ... we cannot approve of this," Putin explained.

The president's joke about being blamed for the start of the BLM movement touches on previous allegations in the US media, with a number of commentators claiming Moscow had sought to harness or amplify the unrest. The Kremlin has consistently denied being behind the supposed disinformation campaigns.

'It's wrong to say Russia doesn't tolerate political dissent'

In an interview broadcast on Monday, Putin hit out at suggestions he was threatened by dissent, with Simmons raising the case of imprisoned activist Alexey Navalny. "Who says that I feel threatened by opposition or we are threatened by opposition? Who told you that I'm scared by opposition?" he demanded. "It's just funny."

He added that recent court rulings against Navalny's organization and the decision to list two overseas-backed media outlets, Meduza and VTimes, as 'foreign agents' were not part of a pattern of repression, arguing that the US had equivalent measures. "I believe that it's justified," he said.

However, the back and forth between Putin and the interviewer quickly descended into a heated argument, with Simmons attempting to interrupt and challenge the president's words. "Do you want me to keep answering?" Putin asked, raging that Simmons was "not liking my answer, so you're interrupting me. This is inappropriate."

After the NBC correspondent said the leader was engaging in "whataboutism" by referencing the US in his response to questions about Russia's domestic situation, a frustrated Putin said. "If you muster patience and let me finish saying what I mean to say, everything will be clear to you. But you're not liking my answer. You don't want my answer to be heard by your audience. That's the problem. You're shutting me down. Is that free expression? Is that free expression the American way?"

Comment: Indeed, the interviewer probably wants it to appear as though it's 'tough talking', when actually it's a sign of how weak one's arguments are and how strong one's biases are that he is incapable of basic courtesy when the President of Russia easily refutes his claims with simple truths.

Simmons went on to ask Putin directly whether he had ordered what he claimed was the state-sponsored attempted murder of Navalny. The opposition figure and his German doctors said he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. "Of course not," Putin said. "We don't have this kind of habit of assassinating anybody."

Comment: Meanwhile Israel's Mossad is infamous for its involvement in assasinations, but we rarely hear about that from American media outlets: How Mossad became the world leader in assassinations with over 800 'operations' in the last decade

In reply, Putin asked whether the US had ordered "the assassination of the woman who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman," adding, "Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? And they didn't go there to steal a laptop. They came with political demands."

On Wednesday, Putin is set to meet with his American counterpart, President Joe Biden, for their first in-person summit since the Democratic Party politician took office. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has hinted that his side intends to raise the subject of the supporters of former US President Donald Trump, who stormed Washington's Capitol building in the wake of his defeat during the 2020 election. "A lot of really interesting things are happening from the point of view of the rights of the opposition, and protecting those rights," the envoy added.