Vladimir Putin calls Donald Trump to congratulate him

Hunter Walker
White House Correspondent
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Pool, via Reuters)

President-elect Donald Trump talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. Trump was repeatedly attacked for praising the autocratic Putin during the election, particularly in light of allegations that Russia attempted to influence the campaign.

According to a readout of the conversation that was released by Trump’s transition team, the Russian leader “called to offer his congratulations on winning a historic election.”

“During the call, the two leaders discussed a range of issues, including the threats and challenges facing the United States and Russia, strategic economic issues and the historical U.S.-Russia relationship that dates back over 200 years,” the readout said.

The Russian government also released a readout of the phone call that described the discussion as agreed to “in advance by both sides”; it showed Putin as “ready to develop a dialogue of partnership with the new administration on the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs.” According to the Kremlin, both Putin and Trump indicated they were unhappy with the current relationship between their countries.

The Russian readout said, “During the conversation, Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump not only agreed on the absolutely unsatisfactory state of bilateral relations, but also expressed support for active joint efforts to normalize relations and pursue constructive cooperation on the broadest possible range of issues. They emphasized the importance of establishing a reliable foundation for bilateral ties by developing the trade and economic component.”

The office of the director of U.S. national intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement last month accusing the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to “interfere” with the election.

“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the statement said.

The DNC hack revealed emails that indicated Democratic Party officials favored Clinton over her primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton was also hit with negative headlines based on emails hacked from the account of her campaign chairman, John Podesta, that revealed internal debates and critiques. Private security groups have linked the Podesta hack to Russia. U.S. officials have not accused Russia of being behind the hacking of Podesta’s email, though White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted that the breach bore similarities to prior Russian operations.

There are signs Russia is eager to see a Trump presidency. The Russian parliament reportedly burst into applause after the announcement that Trump had won the election. Putin has also told foreign ambassadors he is ready to restore ties with Washington in the wake of Trump’s victory. On Nov. 10, the Russian news agency Interfax published an interview with the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in which he said the Kremlin was in contact with Trump’s campaign during the presidential race. The Trump campaign told Yahoo News it was unaware of any such conversations.

Several analysts have predicted that Trump would look at lifting President Obama’s sanctions against Moscow that were placed after Russia annexed Crimea. Trump has also indicated he would be willing to negotiate with Russia over the situation in Syria. The Russian readout of Trump’s conversation with Putin said the pair discussed Syria in the context of “the need to work together in the struggle against the number one common enemy — international terrorism and extremism.”

The Kremlin also said Trump and Putin “agreed to maintain contact by phone and arrange a meeting in person in the future.” According to the Trump transition team’s readout, Trump expressed to Putin optimism about the two countries’ relationship going forward.

“President-elect Trump noted to President Putin that he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia,” the Trump readout said.