Trump: Putin ‘very smart’ for decision to withhold sanctions

Donald Trump (Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump deemed Russian President Vladimir Putin “very smart” Friday for withholding reciprocal sanctions on the US, at least for the time being.

“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Trump wrote on Twitter from his Florida resort.

Earlier, Putin discarded a recommendation from his government to impose restrictions on the US in retaliation of President Barack Obama’s decision to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the US presidential election.

Trump immediately pinned the tweet to the top of his profile, meaning it is the first thing those visiting his page will see. The official account of the Russian Embassy then retweeted Trump.

Trump’s warm overtures to Putin have been the subject of much debate and controversy. The two exchanged compliments during Trump’s campaign — during which Trump often called for closer ties with Russia — and Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate him after his victory in November.

Last week, Trump received a Christmas letter from the Russian leader in which Putin expressed his hope for a more cordial relationship with the US, to which Trump said his thoughts were “so correct.”

Meanwhile, Trump has publicly expressed skepticism that Russia interfered in the 2016 election by hacking Democratic Party organizations, saying this week that Americans should “get on with our lives.” In the wake of Obama’s announcement of sanctions, however, Trump said he would review the intelligence next week.

The sanctions announced Thursday by the Obama administration targeted four Russian individuals and five Russian entities over the election interference. The White House also ordered 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country and two Russian compounds, located in New York and Maryland, are being closed.

Russian officials immediately vowed to retaliate, but on Friday morning, Putin said he would not pursue “irresponsible diplomacy.” He said he would instead attempt to rebuild relations with Washington after Trump’s inauguration next month.