Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump will have their first official discussions since the inauguration in a phone call planned for Saturday, the Kremlin said.
The two leaders will exchange views on Russia-U.S. relations, though the Kremlin isn’t expecting “substantive discussions on the whole range of issues” from this initial contact, in which Putin will congratulate Trump on his Jan. 20 inauguration, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call Friday.
Peskov said he had no information on reports that Trump is considering lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia imposed over the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Relations between Putin and Trump are being watched closely in the U.S. amid assertions from intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election campaign to aid the Republican in defeating Democratic contender Hillary Clinton. Trump, who’s repeatedly spoken of improving relations with Russia, said at a Jan. 11 press conference, his first since the election, that “if Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.” He also said that Russia could help the U.S. in defeating Islamic State.
Putin sent Trump a congratulatory telegram a day after his victory in the Nov. 8 election and spoke by phone days later with the president-elect about prospects for improvingthe “highly unsatisfactory” state of U.S.-Russian relations, according to the Kremlin. Trump said Dec. 23 that Putin also sent him “a very nice letter,” urging him to restore the damaged relationship.