Moments ago, Donald Trump released the following statement in response to a conciliatory letter he has received from Russian president Vladimir Putin, in which the Russian president offers an unprecedented olive branch for future cooperation between the two nations:
"A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct. I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path."
In the letter, Putin underscroed the importance of cooperation between the two countries, further hinting at a thawing of the icy relations, as Russia has described them, between Obama and Putin.
"I hope that after you assume the position of the President of the United States of America we will be able – by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner - to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level," the Russian leader wrote.
The letter comes following comments by both Putin and Trump over a build up of nuclear weapons, and speculation of a new arms race with Russia. Trump tweeted on Thursday that he supported strengthening the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Those comments came on the same day that Putin made similar statements about his own country's arsenal.
Trump advisers on Friday sought to downplay the controversy. Trump's incoming White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, insisted that Trump's tweet was actually intended to be a warning to other countries that he would not let U.S. security be threatened by an arms race. “There’s not going to be [an arms race] because he is going to ensure that other countries get the message he is not going to sit back and allow that,” Spicer said on NBC's "Today."
Judging by Putin's tone, the Russian leader does not expect an imminent arms race with the US and instead is hoping for much better relations going forward.
This is what Putin, who has never previously sent a similar letter to a US head of state, said:
Dear Mr. Trump,
Please accept my warmest Christmas and New Year greetings.
Serious global and regional challenges, which our countries have to face in recent years, show that the relations between Russia and the U.S. remain an important factor in ensuring stability and security of the modern world.
I hope that after you assume the position of the President of the United States of America we will be able — by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner - to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level.
Please accept my sincere wishes to you and your family of sound health, happiness, wellbeing, success and all the best.
It appears that both Russia and the US are eager for a quick restoration of "sound" bilateral relations following 8 years deterioration under the Obama administration, facilitated by the US State Department, first headed by Hillary Clinton and then John Kerry.