A few hours after Donald Trump’s presidential election win became clear, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped the new US leader would make good on his pledge to improve frayed relations between his country and the United States. Deputies in the parliament in Moscow, meanwhile, erupted in applause at the news.
“Russia is ready and wants to restore fully fledged relations with the US. It won’t be easy, but we’re prepared to do our part,” Putin said at the Kremlin. “This would serve the interests of the Russian and American peoples, as well as positively impacting the general climate in international affairs, taking into account Russia and the US’s special responsibility to support global stability and security.”
During a campaign focused heavily on domestic issues, Trump made it clear he did not want confrontation with Russia and saw in Putin a man he can do business with as president. His remarks caused alarm especially among countries in Central and Eastern Europe that are feeling threatened by Moscow’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy.
Trump said he would if elected review the economic sanctions imposed on Russia during the Ukraine crisis, work closer with Russia in Syria, and potentially recognise Moscow’s March 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Amid mixed first financial reactions in Russia to Trump’s victory, the country's political circles welcomed the event, which is widely seen to play to Moscow's advantage compared with the more strident stance that had been expected under a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Before the elections, Putin also made his preference clear. Speaking to journalists in October, he said that “Ms Clinton chose her aggressive rhetoric and aggressive stance with regard to Russia, and Mr Trump, on the contrary, is calling for cooperation, at least against terrorism.” Russia was not interested in quarrelling constantly with anyone, “which only creates threats to oneself and the world”, he added.
Historically, Russia and the Soviet Union had always found it easier to make deals with the Republicans than with the Democrats. Taking a swing at the supposedly cosy relationship forming between Putin and Trump, the Russian leader even featured in a recent episode of the hit US cartoon series “The Simpsons” boosting the billionaire.
Meanwhile, as the results of the US voting came in, Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said he hoped the new president could help bring US-Russian relations back from their lowest ebb in years, and seen by many as being at their worst since the Cold War.
“Current Russian-US relations cannot be called friendly,” TASS quoted Volodin as saying. “One would like to hope that a more constructive dialogue between the two countries will be possible when the new president takes office. The Russian parliament will welcome and support any steps along these lines.”