Vladimir Putin waltzed to another 6-year term as Russian president last weekend, besting a watered-down field of no-name candidates in an election that was heavily tilted in Putin’s favor in every conceivable way. It was no democratic triumph. But neither is Donald Trump. So when the president of the United States got on the horn Tuesday to chat with his Russian counterpart, the Washington Post reports, Trump’s national security team put together a briefing on how best to approach the potentially delicate situation.
The briefing included a section, in all caps, stating: “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” the Russian president on his reelection.
Trump took a different strategic approach on what he later declared a “very good call.”
On top of the vaguely democratic vote, Russia has been accused of assassinating a former Russian double agent in Salisbury, England in a brazen poison attack earlier this month. Trump’s briefing reportedly suggested condemning Putin for the poison incident, but Trump, never one for actual face-to-face confrontation, did not call out Moscow for an alleged attack that U.S. and British intelligence both blame on Russia.