U.S. President Donald Trump says Russia appears to taking provocative steps such as sailing a spy ship near the U.S. East Coast because Moscow has concluded no improvement in relations will occur anytime soon.
In a long and rambling press conference that frequently focused on Russia on February 16, Trump said he didn't think Russia was testing him by sending the spy ship, recently deploying a new ballistic-missile system, and buzzing a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea last week by Russian military jets.
Rather, Trump said those potential provocations are the result of Russian President Vladimir Putin's dashed hopes that ties with the United States will improve under his presidency.
"All of those things...are very recent, because probably Putin assumes that he's not going to be able to make a deal with me because it's politically not popular for me to make a deal," Trump said.
"If you were Putin right now, you would say, 'Hey, we're back to the old games with the United States; there's no way Trump can ever do a deal with us,'" Trump said.
"If I was just brutal on Russia right now, just brutal, people would say.... 'Oh, isn't that wonderful.'"