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President-elect Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin speak about future of US-Russia ties

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Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone with US President-elect Donald Trump Monday, according to statements from the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.

Putin “called to offer his congratulations on winning a historic election,” according to a President-elect Trump statement. The two leaders discussed issues including shared threats, strategic economic issues and the historical US-Russia relationship.

The two men also spoke about working to normalize relations between the two countries and emphasized the importance of creating a foundation of bilateral ties through trade, the Kremlin said.

They also discussed the need for “joint efforts in the fight against common enemy No. 1” — international terrorism and extremism.

Russia factor

Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate President-elect Trump on his win, after a campaign dogged by alleged Russian hacking and President-elect Trump’s cozy relationship with the Kremlin.

President-elect Trump praised Putin as a strong leader even as US officials accused Moscow of meddling in the election by leaking hacked Democratic campaign emails to undermine Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

Multiple critics of Putin have been outspoken in their shock at President-elect Trump’s win. “Russia was a democracy, if briefly,” wrote Gary Kasparov on Twitter. “Then Trump’s idol won our last real election.”

Masha Gessen, author of “The Man With No Face,” a biography of Putin, drew parallels between the Russian leader and President-elect Trump in a piece for the New York Review of Books on “rules for surviving in an autocracy.”

Changing ties

During the campaign, President-elect Trump was criticized for saying that Putin “is not going into Ukraine,” two years after the invasion of Crimea. He later claimed that he meant as President he would not allow further incursions.

The President-elect also made a habit of questioning NATO’s relevance, a departure from over 60 years of bipartisan foreign policy. Putin has been a long time critic of the alliance’s expansion into eastern Europe.

However, on Monday, in his first news conference after President-elect Trump’s election, President Barack Obama said that President-elect Trump had told him he was committed to NATO.

Last week, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN that he hoped President-elect Trump would help improve relations between Washington and Moscow.

“Because what we have currently is a very lousy relationship,” he said.