Russian president Vladimir Putin called for a new era of “fully fledged relations” between his country and the US yesterday after a surprise victory which was applauded in the Russian parliament and prompted speculation that US-imposed sanctions could be lifted.
After an election campaign in which Russia was openly accused of interfering in favour of Donald Trump, Putin congratulated the president-elect on his victory and said Russia was ready to work for better ties.
“We understand that it will not be an easy path given the current state of degradation in the relations,” he said, speaking in the Kremlin.
“And as I have repeatedly said, it’s not our fault that Russian-American relations are in such a poor state. But Russia wants and is ready to restore fully fledged relations with the United States.”
Earlier, Putin became one of the first world leaders to congratulate Trump, sending him a telegram expressing hope for an era of positive ties. Many Russian politicians welcomed the news, both because Trump has spoken of his admiration for Putin and because he represents a blow against the US “establishment”.
Relations between the US and Russia have reached a post-cold war low over the past two years, due to differences over Syria and Ukraine. Moscow’s involvement in the latter’s conflict led the US to impose sanctions.
“Clearly the chances of sanctions being lifted on Russia have risen substantially,” Charles Robertson, Renaissance Capital’s global chief economist, said of Trump’s victory. “That would improve the investment climate for Russia.”
Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin political analyst, was jubilant at the result and said a Trump presidency would make it more likely the US would agree with Russia on Syria, where the two powers back different sides and Moscow has intervened decisively on behalf of the president, Bashar al-Assad.
Markov also said it would mean less American backing for “the terroristic junta in Ukraine”. He denied allegations of Russian interference in the election, but said “maybe we helped a bit with WikiLeaks.”
The Obama administration accused Russian authorities of hacking Democratic party emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks. Putin dismissed as “nonsense” claims of Russian interference. No evidence was found linking Russia to the leaked emails.