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Russian president Putin one of first world leaders to congratulate Trump

Russian president Vladimir Putin
By Gavin Cordon, Press Association Whitehall Editor

RUSSIAN president Vladimir Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Donald Trump on his victory in the race for the White House.

A statement posted on the Kremlin website said Mr Putin had sent the US president-elect a telegram expressing his hope that they could work together to restore US-Russian relations from their current "state of crisis".

The Russian leader spoke of building a "constructive dialogue" between Moscow and Washington based on principles of equality and "mutual respect" in the interests of their two countries and of the wider world.

The Kremlin had been widely thought to favour Mr Trump in the US election, believing Hillary Clinton would adopt a more confrontational approach to Russia while her Republican Party rival has expressed his admiration for Mr Putin.

Russia were blamed for a series of cyber attacks and leaks – including the hacking of the Democratic National Committee's email system over the summer – apparently aimed at undermining Mrs Clinton's campaign.

US intelligence chief James Clapper publicly warned last month that the attacks must have been authorised by senior officials in Moscow.

A joint statement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security said the thefts and disclosures were "intended to interfere with the US election process".

In the Duma – the Russian state legislature – the announcement of Mr Trump's victory was greeted with applause by members.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the nationalist Liberal Democrat party, said: "We of course regard with satisfaction that the better candidate of the two presented to the American voters was victorious."

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