- Trump says he might meet with Putin before he even becomes president
- US-Russia relations are at a low point not seen since the Cold War
Washington (CNN)Donald Trump wants to hit the ground running with Russia.
The Republican nominee said in an interview Monday that he might meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin before he even makes it into the White House.
"I think I could see myself meeting with Putin and meeting with Russia prior to the start of the administration. I think it would be wonderful," Trump told Michael Savage in an interview for his radio show.
Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have seized on Trump's open admiration for the Russian ruler as a way to cast him at odds with mainstream US thinking on foreign policy.
Trump has largely embraced such a characterization, regularly saying he would prefer to get along with Putin.
"They say, 'Oh well Russia loves Donald Trump and Putin loves Donald Trump,'" Trump told Savage. "They insult him constantly, no wonder he can't stand Obama and Hillary Clinton."
Tensions with Russia have boiled over in recent weeks as the US and Russia have failed to reach an agreement on Syria, and the US has officially indicated it believes Russia was behind several high-profile hacks of Democratic Party institutions. US officials have pledged to retaliate in kind, and Putin reportedly warned Kremlin journalists Monday that they are under surveillance from the National Security Agency.
Trump has pledged to push past these disagreements and disputed Russia's role in the hacks, even breaking with his running mate to do so. In the past, he has also dismissed Putin's human rights record.
In his latest comments, Trump again hailed Russia's nuclear weapons program as "so far ahead of us" and hit Clinton over her opposition to the Kremlin.
"She talks tough with Russia. She shouldn't be talking so tough," Trump said. "Frankly, if we got along with Russia and knocked out ISIS, that would be a good thing, not a bad thing."