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'Great move, Vladimir': Trump praises Russian President for reaction to US sanctions

“I always knew he was very smart,” Trump tweeted.

Image: Evan Vucci AP/Press Association Images

US PRESIDENT-ELECT Donald Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for not reacting immediately to Washington’s move to punish it over alleged election-related interference.

He said: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin)- I always knew he was very smart.”

Earlier, the Russian leader ruled out any immediate tit-for-tat expulsions of American officials in the row over what Washington says were “efforts to harm US interests” in connection with the 8 November election won by the Republican.

Putin’s own foreign ministry had recommended that he eject 35 American officials to counterbalance US President Barack Obama’s move yesterday to expel 35 Russian intelligence operatives and shut down two Russian compounds in the US.

In a statement today, the Russian President said that he would “not create problems for American diplomats”.

He also indicated that his country’s future relations with the US would be based on his dealings with the President-Elect.

He said: “We evaluate the new unfriendly steps by the outgoing US administration as a provocation aimed at further undermining Russian-American relations.”

He said Moscow would plan its next steps “based on the policies pursued by the administration of president Donald Trump”, while warning that the Kremlin reserves the right to hit back.

While Trump may have tweeted his support for Putin’s stance, it remains to be seen whether he will roll back the sanctions against Moscow.

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Trump said that while he believes the US should “move on to bigger and better things,” he would meet intelligence leaders next week for a briefing on the situation.

Yesterday, Obama pointedly said that “all Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions” when announcing the sanctions against Russia.

“The United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behaviour and interfere with democratic governance,” Obama said.

© – AFP 2016

With reporting from Sean Murray

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