Trump breaks ranks to congratulate Putin on landslide election victory

Trump breaks ranks to congratulate Putin on landslide election victory

President Donald Trump congratulated Russia's President Vladimir Putin for his re-election victory during a phone call on Tuesday, but he skirted the topic of Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.

According to The Washington Post, Trump's advisers included a warning in his briefing materials, in all caps, which said, "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" Putin on his victory in the Russian election last week.

"I suspect that we'll probably be meeting in the not too distant future to discuss the arms race, to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control, but we will never allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have", Trump said.

Trump's decision to congratulate Putin on his victory prompted immediate criticism from Russian Federation hawks in Congress like Arizona Sen.

"I had a call with President Putin, and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory", Trump said, ignoring concerns about the vote being rigged in the Russian strongman's favor.

During Tuesday's White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if the topic of Saudi Arabia's human rights violations came up during Trump's meeting with the crown prince.

In a statement about the call between the two leaders, the Kremlin described diplomatic problems facing Russian Federation and the US and confirmed Putin's intent to meet with Trump. He also did not press Putin on Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Putin won a fourth six-year term with what Russian officials said was 77 percent of the vote.

The Kremlin spokesman says it's no big deal that U.S. President Donald Trump didn't congratulate Vladimir Putin on his re-election as president.

"The two leaders confirmed the need for the United States and Russian Federation to continue our shared efforts on strategic stability", it said.

Sanders adds that the call was meant to discuss areas of cooperation between the USA and Russian Federation.

The White House said in a statement that the leaders "emphasized the importance of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula" after Trump agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in hopes of defusing the nuclear threat from the North.

Trump said the call was "very good" and added that a meeting could focus on Ukraine, Syria, North Korea and other issues.

Talk of an "arms race" has increased since Putin held a blood-pumping State of the Union this month, where he showed off Russia's newest nuclear weapons, blaming the U.S. for leaving the anti-ballistic missile treaty, and telling his audience: "They didn't listen to us then".

Putin denied that Russian Federation had any role and called the claim "nonsense".

Trump and Putin last met in Vietnam during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Trump has repeatedly denied the charges and issued his strongest rebuke yet of special counsel Robert Mueller, attacking Mueller by name for the first time over the weekend while calling the investigation a "witch hunt".

Meanwhile, critics laid into Trump earlier this month for his lukewarm response to the nerve-agent attack on former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, both of whom are now on life support.

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