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Kremlin: Lack Of U.S. Congratulations To Putin On Reelection 'No Big Deal'


President Vladimir Putin meets with the media at his campaign headquarters in Moscow on March 18.

The Kremlin says the absence of a congratulatory message from U.S. President Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin on his reelection as president is not an unfriendly step.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on March 20, two days after the vote, that he didn't consider Trump's silence an "unfriendly move."

He speculated that Trump's schedule might not have allowed for it, and suggested that the U.S. president might call later.

"Some may be unable to make a phone call due to a tight schedule, and others for a different reason," Peskov said of international leaders.

With U.S.-Russian relations at lows not seen since the Cold War, Peskov said that "Putin remains open for normalizing relations with our American partners where it is in our interests."

The White House said on March 19 that it was "not surprised by the outcome" of the March 18 election and that no congratulatory call was planned.

Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, won more than 76 percent of the vote, according to the Central Election Commission.

The election was marred by alleged fraud, pressure to vote, and what international observers said was the lack of a "real choice."

Ties between Russia and the United States have been severely strained by disagreements over issues including Russia's aggression in Ukraine, its role in the war in Syria, and its alleged interference in Western politics and elections.

On March 15, Washington imposed sanctions on Russian entities and individuals over what U.S. intelligence agencies say was Moscow's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election that put Trump in the White House.

Putin said on March 19 that Russia wanted to build "constructive" relations with other countries but that "not everything depends on us.”

Trump praised Putin and called repeatedly for better ties with Russia during his campaign, but relations have remained tense.

U.S. special prosecutor Robert Mueller and three congressional committees are investigating the alleged Russian meddling in the election and whether associates of Trump colluded with Russia.

Russia denies meddling and Trump says there was no collusion.

With reporting by AP, Interfax, and TASS
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