US President Donald Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin for his reelection for a fourth term, despite being reportedly briefed by his aides to refrain from doing so. Republican senator John McCain harshly denounced the president’s call, and said the move “insulted every Russian citizen” who was prevented from voting.

Trump and Putin

Trump and Putin Photo Credit: Wikipedia

US President Donald Trump was one of the few leaders of Western nations to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin for his election for a fourth term in the Kremlin. A report in the Washington Post claimed the American president went against the advice of his aides, whose briefings on the matter reportedly read: “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”

“I had a call with president Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. “The call had to do also with the fact that we will probably get together in the not too distant future so we can discuss arms, we can discuss the arms race.” 

Republican senator John McCain harshly denounced the president’s move on Tuesday. “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” McCain said in a statement. “By doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters after the call that there are “no specific plans made at this time” for the aforementioned meeting between the two leaders. She also responded to the criticism of the call. “We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate,” Sanders said. “Putin has been elected in their country and it not something we can dictate to them how they operate.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also congratulated Putin for his victory. “Mr. President, please accept my sincere congratulations for your victory in the elections,” Netanyahu told the Russian president in a letter sent by his office. “I appreciate our personal dialogue and I am looking forward to continue and closely work together, in the spirit of the trust and understanding there is between us, so as to promote the vital interests of our countries.”