Donald Trump has commended Vladimir Putin for not immediately retaliating after the U.S. expelled 35 Russian diplomats and imposed other sanctions for allegedly interfering with the November 8 election.
Trump tweeted his approval after Putin rejected his foreign minister’s proposal to give American diplomats the boot as payback.
“I always knew he was very smart,” Trump tweeted.
Not long after, the Russian Embassy in the U.S. retweeted Trump.
Putin has condemned President Obama’s move, which also included imposing sanctions on two suspected hackers and three companies that allegedly support the Russian GRU intelligence service’s cyber operations.
U.S. intelligence services have accused the Russians of launching cyber-attacks on the Democratic Party in the run up to the election.
Emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were leaked online and messages stolen from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta later appeared on the website WikiLeaks.
The CIA concluded Moscow was, in part, trying to help Trump win and NBC News has reported that intelligence officials believe “with a high level of confidence” that Putin was personally involved in the covert campaign.
The Russians have denied meddling in the election. But many Democratic and Republican lawmakers are convinced that Moscow crossed the line and support a strong response against the Russians.
“Russia is not our friend,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently tweeted, adding that Obama had not “dissuaded” Moscow from trying to hack into U.S. security systems.