Trump declines to single out Russia as 'security threat'

President Trump on Monday declined an opportunity to call out Russia as a security threat, saying instead that he considers “many countries threats.”

Trump was responding to questions at a joint press briefing with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö following their bilateral meeting in Washington. 

When asked by a Finnish reporter whether he considers Russia as a security threat, Trump replied, “I consider many countries as a security threat, unfortunately, when you look at what’s going on in the world today.” 

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The reporter was referencing escalating tensions in the Baltic region. When asked what the United States would be willing to do if tensions continue to escalate, Trump offered no details but said plainly that the U.S. is “very protective of that region.” 

“I would consider many countries threats but these are all threats that we’ll be able to handle if we have to,” Trump said. “Hopefully, we won’t have to handle them, but if we do, we will handle them.”

Later, Trump said that it would be beneficial for the U.S. to have a better relationship with Russia, in order to ensure "world peace." 

"I hope that we do have good relations with Russia," Trump said. "I say it loud and clear, I have been saying it for years. I think it's a good thing if we have great relationships, or at least good relationships, with Russia."

"I believe someday that will happen," he said. "It's a big country, it's a nuclear country."

"I think that's very good for world peace and other things," Trump said. 

Trump has repeatedly voiced a desire for improved relations with Moscow, and has often spoken admirably of Russian President Vladimir Putin, remarks that have come under increased scrutiny amid ongoing investigations into the Kremlin's election meddling last year.