Russia election: Trump congratulates Putin over victory

Media captionTrump congratulates Putin and will meet him “in the not too distant future”

US President Donald Trump has spoken to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his electoral victory two days ago.

He said they they would meet in the “not too distant future” to discuss the arms race, Ukraine and Syria.

Mr Putin was re-elected by a landslide, with more than 76% of the vote, for a fourth six-year term.

But there was no strong challenger with the main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, barred from the race.

European observers said that while the poll was conducted efficiently, there was a lack of genuine choice.

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Mr Trump said the arms race between the US and Russia was “getting out of control… but we will never allow anybody to have anything close to what we have”.

EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker also wrote a letter of congratulations to the Russian leader on Tuesday, pledging to “always be a partner” in improving security co-operation with the Kremlin.

“I have always argued that positive relations between the European Union and Russian Federation are crucial to security of our continent,” he said in the letter, which he shared on Twitter.

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Image caption

Mr Putin was re-elected by a landslide, with more than 76% of the vote

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the first Western leaders to “warmly congratulate” Mr Putin on Monday – a day after his re-election – stressing the need to continue dialogue “to address important bilateral and international challenges and find viable solutions”.

French President Emmanuel Macron wished Mr Putin success in “modernising Russia”, but urged Moscow to shed light on the “unacceptable” attempted assassination of an ex-spy in Britain.

The delayed congratulations come against a backdrop of growing Western tensions with Moscow after the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Britain.

The UK government blamed the nerve agent attack on Russia.

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The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats from London, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Moscow.

The US, which has backed the UK’s condemnation of Russia, recently imposed sanctions on a group of Russians over alleged interference in favour of the election of Donald Trump as US president in 2016.