President-elect Donald Trump hailed Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday for not officially retaliating against the U.S. action against Russia.
“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Trump tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Putin denounced President Obama’s decision to punish Russia for interfering in the U.S. elections. The Obama administration and U.S. intelligence community have accused the Kremlin of backing the cyberattacks that leaked politically toxic emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
President Obama announced Thursday that his administration would place sanctions against Russian intelligence services, expel 35 suspected spies and close two estates that the U.S. linked to Russia’s intelligence-gathering operation.
Putin said he would have the right to lash back at the U.S. but would wait until Trump takes office on Jan. 20 and then work with the new administration. Russia has repeatedly denied meddling in the U.S. election.
“As it proceeds from international practice, Russia has reasons to respond in kind. Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-U.S. relations based on the policies of the Trump administration,” Putin said.
Trump has repeatedly showered praise on Putin. During the campaign he praised the Russian president as a stronger leader than Obama, even when confronted with allegations that Putin kills journalists and political foes.
In his initial statement reacting to the Obama administration’s punishments against Russia, Trump said he would meet with U.S. intelligence officials to learn more about the issue.
“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said Thursday. “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”
On Friday, Russia’s U.S. embassy quickly retweeted Trump’s post cheering Putin’s intelligence.