Trump ignored briefing materials that said not to congratulate Putin

RUSSIA-ELECTION  PUTIN-MILITARY Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin | Reuters

Donald Trump was given stern instructions from his national security team - "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" Vladimir Putin on his recent re-election that came after Russian Federation launched an alleged attack in the United Kingdom that left a former spy dead.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters that Trump had not called Putin and had no plans to do so.

Even members of President Donald Trump's own party are criticizing him for congratulating Vladimir Putin on winning Sunday's election.

Republican U.S. Senator John McCain chastised Trump for the congratulatory call.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump's comments on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters at the White House during his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Trump confirmed: "I congratulated him [Putin] on the victory, the electoral victory".

Mr. Trump noted that his administration was spending $700 billion to upgrade the American military, and said he would never allow Russian Federation, or any other country, to approach its military might.

Putin won a landslide victory to extend his rule over the world's largest country for six more years at a time when his ties with the West are on a hostile trajectory.

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However, Trump did congratulate Putin during the call. She said President Trump maintained it is important to have dialogue with Russian Federation, and at the same time "we will continue to be tough on Russian Federation".

Officials said the duo spoke by phone on Tuesday, days after the Russian leader secured a fourth term in the Kremlin.

He also did not press Putin on Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

During the call, Mr Trump did not mention the issue that has sparked growing Western tensions with Moscow - the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Britain. Relations between the two countries instead have remained tense amid the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election and the investigations of whether there was collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia. Trump has targeted countries such as Venezuela and Cambodia over its elections. Russia has denied involvement in the March 4 poisoning, but the attack has badly damaged British-Russian relations and British Prime Minister Theresa May last week announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation. Other issues that will be discussed during the bilateral meeting will be Ukraine, Syria, and North Korea, Trump added.

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