White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said both the nerve agent poisoning and alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election likely did not come up during the call. President Donald Trump is being criticized by Sen.
Asked by a reporter whether the White House believes the election in Russian Federation was free and fair, Sanders responded, "Look, in terms of the election, we're focused on our elections".
The White House had said Monday that it was "not surprised by the outcome" of Sunday's presidential election in Russian Federation and that no congratulatory call was planned.
But any meeting between the two leaders would be controversial, given the ongoing investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation during the 2016 elections. Russian Federation denies interference in the election.
Trump's applause of Putin's victory was in line with other congratulatory calls he has made, including to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for winning a much-disputed referendum that increased his already autocratic powers and to China's President Xi Jinping for his "extraordinary elevation" after Xi last month engineered the Communist Party's elimination of presidential term limits. They also confirmed the need for cooperation on strategic stability.
The two leaders talked over the phone on Tuesday and discussed U.S. -Russia relations and denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. "We'll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control".
Trump also did not follow aides' instructions that he condemn Putin over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom, according to the Post.
Talk of an "arms race" has increased since Putin held a blood-pumping State of the Union this month, where he showed off Russia's newest nuclear weapons, blaming the USA for leaving the anti-ballistic missile treaty, and telling his audience: "They didn't listen to us then". London has blamed Moscow for the attack, a charge Russian Federation denies. They met on the sidelines of an global summit in Germany last summer and again more informally at another gathering of world leaders in Vietnam in November.
Since the election, Putin has toned down his rhetoric against the West, saying on March 19 that Russian Federation wants to build "constructive" relations with other countries but that "not everything depends on us".
Other western leaders have called Putin following the Russian election, including the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and President Emmanuel Macron of France.
"It's blatantly obvious that he has just an inexplicable level of support for President Putin", said Julie Smith, a European security expert who served as deputy national security adviser for former vice president Joe Biden.