In a post Friday on Russia’s official Twitter account, Putin sent a “New Year greeting to President Obama & his family, also to President-elect @RealDonaldTrump & American people.”
Putin typically sends a New Year’s greeting to the President, but this year’s message comes at one of the worst moments in U.S.-Russia relations since the Cold War.
American intelligence officials widely agree that Russian hackers successfully interfered in the presidential election, and Obama has responded with new sanctions on Russian officials. Recent years have seen Russia defy the international community with its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, and Putin has been a key backer of Syrian ruler Bashar Assad.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed reports that Russia was behind attempts to undermine the 2016 election, and his allies have called Obama’s latest sanctions an attempt to corner the incoming Trump administration, which has promised warmer relations with Russia. It is in Russia’ interests to mend its relationship with the United States in order to increase its territorial influence and free itself from aggressive American-led economic sanctions which have hurt the Russian economy. Putin is counting on Trump to thaw the two nations’ relationship.
Putin said Friday that Russia will not respond to Obama’s new sanctions with similar actions against the United States—a move that leaves the future of the two nations’ relationship up to Trump.
“It is regrettable that the Obama Administration is ending its term in this manner. Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family,” Putin said in a separate message. “My season’s greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people.”