Trump Praises Putin's Letter Seeking to Restore U.S.-Russian Ties

  • President-elect releases letter from Russian president
  • Trump has faced criticism for relationship with Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Photographer: Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik via AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked President-elect Donald Trump to restore the damaged U.S. relationship with his country in a letter the Republican praised on Friday.

"A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct," Trump said in a statement Friday accompanying the letter dated Dec. 15. "I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path."

Trump has faced criticism for the coziness between him, some of his aides, and Putin and his government. He’s also rejected the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Moscow was behind the hacks and release of emails from Democratic officials that embarrassed Hillary Clinton during the height of the presidential campaign. The Washington Post reported the CIA believes Putin was personally involved in the cyber attacks, which had the aim of electing Trump.

The letter, which was marked “unofficial translation,” was addressed to “His Excellency Donald Trump.” RIA Novosti, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, confirmed that Putin sent Trump a holiday greetings message, in which he expressed hope for an improvement of bilateral relations.

For a QuickTake Q&A on the Trump-Putin relationship, click here

"Serious global and regional challenges, which our countries have to face in recent years, show that the relations between Russia and the U.S. remain an important factor in ensuring stability and security of the modern world," Putin wrote. "I hope that after you assume the position of the President of the United States of America we will be able -- by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner -- to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level."

The Obama administration sought and won international sanctions against Russian officials after the country’s military incursion into Ukraine in 2014 and its annexation of Crimea. Relations have been further strained by Putin’s military intervention in the Syrian civil war on behalf of the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

Disclosure of the letter came on the same day Putin held his annual news conference in Moscow, in which he said that Russia was the only country that expected Trump to win the U.S. election while accusing Clinton of being a sore loser.

Trump had his “finger on the pulse of the mood of society,” Putin said. “He went all the way, even though no one believed that he would win, apart from you and me.”

Russian officials have expressed hope that Trump will remove the sanctions, and Trump has said he will seek Russia’s cooperation to destroy Islamic State.

— With assistance by Henry Meyer, Ilya Arkhipov, Ksenia Galouchko, and Stepan Kravchenko

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