In holiday message to Trump, Putin looks forward to 'cooperation' in 2018

Image: Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a toast during an award ceremony in the Kremlin on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017Kirill Kudryavtsev / AP

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By Saphora Smith and Associated Press

In a holiday greeting to President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin said constructive dialogue between the two nations was key to addressing global threats.

Putin emphasized the importance of equality and mutual respect in bilateral relations, the Kremlin said in a statement Saturday.

“This would allow us to make progress in promoting pragmatic cooperation designed for the long term,” the message said according to a summary posted on the Kremlin's website.

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a toast during an award ceremony in the Kremlin on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017Kirill Kudryavtsev / AP

The optimistic New Year's greeting comes a day after Putin’s spokesman said that Moscow views the continued strain on Russian-U.S. relations as a major disappointment of the year.

Asked about the Kremlin’s biggest disappointments of 2017, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that worsening relations with the U.S. were “certainly” on the list.

Despite Trump long expressing interest in working with Russia — both to defeat ISIS and to help broker peace in Syria — his first year in office has marked a turbulent period for Russian-American relations.

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The Kremlin's hopes for a warmer rapport have withered amid allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election and the subsequent Congressional and FBI investigations into alleged links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

The two countries introduced tit-for-tat measures to rebuke each other all year, ranging from restrictions on embassy staff to legislation targeting state-owned media.

Russia has denied any interference in the U.S. election, and Peskov noted that the Kremlin is watching the ongoing U.S. investigations with “bewilderment.”

“It’s the U.S. internal business, but it certainly hurts bilateral relations and we regret that,” he said.

Earlier this month Putin said allegations of collusion between Russia and Trump's campaign were "invented" by Trump's opponents, as he praised Trump's "serious achievements" in office.

In the wide-ranging session, Putin also called for improved relations with the U.S., saying America and Russia should "go forward without trying to be at one another's throats like animals."

He also said he and Trump call each other by their first names.

Putin sent holiday greetings to other world leaders, including Syrian President Basahr al-Assad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Details of Putin's holiday greetings were published as Russia’s highest court upheld election officials’ decision to bar opposition leader Alexei Navalny from running for president in March’s election.

The Supreme Court ruled that the electoral commission's decision to bar Navalny fully conformed to law.

Putin, whose approval ratings top 80 percent, is set to easily win a fourth term in the March 18 vote.