The Latest: State Dept. says Putin re-election ‘no surprise’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin (all times local):
The U.S. State Department says it’s “no surprise” that Russian President Vladimir Putin was re-elected.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says some people in Russia were paid to turn out to vote. She says opposition leaders were intimidated or jailed.
Nauert is citing a preliminary report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that says Russia’s election took place in an overly controlled environment that lacked an even playing field for all contenders. She says the U.S. has every reason to believe that report is correct.
Nauert’s comments are notably tougher on Russia than those of the White House. President Donald Trump is being criticized by Sen. John McCain and others for calling Putin on Tuesday to congratulate him for his re-election.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain didn’t come up in President Donald Trump’s Tuesday call with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
The British government has blamed Moscow for the attack with a military-grade nerve agent.
Outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said it’s “almost beyond comprehension” why a state actor would deploy such a dangerous substance in a public place in a foreign country where others could be exposed.
Sanders told reporters that Trump also didn’t raise the issues of election meddling or Russia’s allegedly tainted voting process. She says: “That’s not simply what today’s call was about.”
Sanders adds that the call was meant to discuss areas of cooperation between the U.S. and Russia.
Sen. John McCain is criticizing President Donald Trump for commending Vladimir Putin for his re-election to a fourth six-year term as Russia’s leader.
The Arizona Republican says, “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.”
McCain, the Armed Services Committee chairman, also says that by doing so Trump has “insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future.”
McCain has previously called Putin a murderer and a thug. He’s also pressed the Trump administration to respond aggressively to Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
President Donald Trump says he wants to meet with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in the “not too distant future” to discuss the “arms race” between Russia and the U.S.
Trump says he also wants to discuss Ukraine, North Korea, and Syria with the Russian president.
Trump said in the Oval Office: ”Í suspect we’ll probably be meeting in the not too distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control, but we will never allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have.”
Trumps comments came after what he says was a “very good call” with Putin on Tuesday morning to congratulate the Russian leader on his re-election Sunday to a fourth six-year term.
The election was tainted by reports of voting irregularities.
The Kremlin says U.S. President Donald Trump has called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on re-election.
The Kremlin said in a statement that the two presidents also spoke Tuesday about the need to coordinate efforts to limit the arms race and closer cooperation on strategic stability and counter-terrorism.
The statement says they also expressed satisfaction with the apparent easing of tensions over North Korea’s weapons program.
The Kremlin said the two leaders also discussed the Ukrainian crisis and the 7-year Syrian war and talked about a possible bilateral meeting.
Russia has repeatedly said it hoped for better ties with the U.S. under Trump. Relations between the two countries instead have remained tense amid the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the investigations of whether there was collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.