Washington, DC – Republican Senator John McCain from Arizona criticized the phone call made by US President Donald Trump to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his landslide victory in another reelection. Both the election observers and Putin’s diminishing political opponents alleged widespread voter fraud in the Sunday election.
In a statement, Senator McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, blasted the position of Trump as a leader of the democratically elected world. “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.” Mincing no words, McCain continued, “And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.”
On Tuesday, both the White House and the Kremlin confirmed the call, with Moscow clearly noting, “Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States Donald Trump at the latter’s initiative.”
Speaking with journalists before an oval office meeting with visiting Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Trump answered a question confirming the call saying, “We had a very good call.”
“I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory,” said President Trump, adding, “We will probably get together in the not too distant future.” Trump cautioned the arms race is “getting out of control,” but in the same vein announced that the US “will not allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have.” On the other subjects for the upcoming bilateral meeting agenda, Trump listed Ukraine, Syria, and North Korea.
The White House in its readout of the call said, “The two leaders discussed the state of bilateral relations and resolved to continue dialogue about mutual national security priorities and challenges.”
Noting that President Trump congratulated President Putin on his March 18 re-election, and emphasizing the importance of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, the White House concluded, “The two leaders confirmed the need for the United States and Russia to continue our shared efforts on strategic stability.”
On the other hand, an official statement by the Kremlin started on the note that the call came at the “initiative” of the US President Trump, adding, “Donald Trump congratulated Vladimir Putin on his victory in the presidential election.” Mentioning the “problem of Syria,” and “the internal crisis in Ukraine,” the Kremlin statement read, “The leaders spoke in favor of developing practical cooperation in various areas, including efforts to ensure strategic stability and combat international terrorism, with particular emphasis on the importance of coordinated efforts to curb an arms race.”
Without mentioning the name of ousted US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the Kremlin statement said, “It was agreed to develop further bilateral contacts in light of the changes in leadership at the US Department of State.”
Although Trump, in his remarks, openly announced a meeting with Putin in the near-future, the Kremlin said a “possibility of organizing a top-level meeting received special attention.” The exchange on economic cooperation also revealed an interest in bolstering it while energy was discussed separately, the statement added. “On the whole, the conversation was constructive and businesslike, with a focus on overcoming the accumulated problems in Russian-American relations,” the Russians concluded.
The phone call came days after some tough talks from the Trump administration and the imposition of new sanctions on Russia for its efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
Although President Trump, on his favorite statement issuing social media platform Twitter, kept his silence on Putin, the administration joined other Western nations to berate Russia last week over allegations that Moscow was behind the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy with a military-grade nerve agent on British soil.