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Donald Trump's shifting opinions on Russia have us all confused

US President Donald Trump claimed the meeting with Vladimir Putin got off to a good start. Photo: DAVID SILPA/UPI/PA Images

US President Donald Trump's visit to Helsinki for an historic meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin has not gone unnoticed.

At their press conference the pair appeared to warmly welcome discussion on trade, security and China but Mr Trump's comments on Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election enraged many back home.

Within days the president appears to have done a complete u-turn on the claims made while standing next to Mr Putin - while claiming he had confronted his Russian counterpart all along.

Confused? As the world tries to keep up with Mr Trump's shifting statements, here's a reminder of how he has changed his tune.

Monday 16 July: Trump distances Putin from election meddling

President Trump met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in an historic summit. Credit: PA

Both leaders attended talks at the Press Summit in Helsinki, Finland.

President Trump had already criticised US investigations into election links with Russians, calling them a "rigged witch hunt" started when he came to power.

In Helsinki he then said he didn't "see any reason why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election" and cast doubt on US intelligence by saying Mr Putin had been "extremely strong and powerful in his denial".

His siding with Mr Putin and denial of Russian interference left many shocked.

The director of US national intelligence, Dan Coats, rejected Mr Trump's claims.

Others used stronger language, with Republican Senator John McCain calling the press conference performance "disgraceful".

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Actor and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger also weighed in, labelling the president "a little noodle".

Tuesday 17 July: After backlash President Trump corrected his words

At the meeting the leaders discussed trade, security in a bid to mend relationships. Credit: Kremlin Pool/Zuma Press/PA Images

The bipartisan criticism initially led to Mr Trump branding the media reports as "fake news".

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But he later admitted the comments made on the summit stage in Helsinki were apparently wrong.

Mr Trump said: “The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia'”, instead of “‘why it would’.

In an interview with CBS he then claimed he misspoke entirely and had pointed the finger squarely at Mr Putin.

President Trump claimed he said: "I let him know we can’t have this. We’re not going to have it and that’s the way it’s going to be."

Amid more criticism, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the comments were "24 hours too late and in the wrong place".

Wednesday 18 July: Trump takes to Twitter to attack his critics

In response to the ongoing backlash, Mr Trump then tweeted that his relationship with Mr Putin had been cordial not confrontational.

"We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!" he said.

He went on to label the criticism towards his recent visit as "Trump Derangement Syndrome".

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Thursday 19 July: Trump says he had attacked meddling all along

Donald Trump has assured the world 'big results will come' from the meeting. Credit: PA

Another day and another Mr Trump description of events.

He now said he had acknowledged the Russian meddling all along.

And he thanked US network Fox News for supporting this claim.

"The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war," he tweeted.

"They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin. We are doing MUCH better than any other country!"

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