President Donald Trump has yet to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his election, and a phone call between the two leaders has yet to be set up, the White House said Monday.
Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters that the Trump administration will “work to cultivate the relationship we have with Russia” but added that they will also “obviously” impose “costs when Russia threatens our interests.”
When asked by reporters if the administration believed the Russian election was “free and fair,” Gidley would only respond, “we’re not surprised by the outcome.”
Last week the administration announced it was enacting new sanctions on Russia, including individuals indicted last month by special counsel Robert Mueller, in a sweeping new effort to punish Moscow for its attempts to interfere in the 2016 US election.
Following Putin’s landslide victory on Sunday, international election monitors have called the election “overly controlled” and said it “lacked genuine competition.”
Michael Georg Link, who led a team of observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said Election Day was conducted professionally and in an orderly manner, but that the vote was held on “an uneven playing field.”
Link pointed to the extensive media coverage given to Putin on tightly controlled state-run television, the main source of political information in Russia.