The Russian government has confirmed an open secret, that US President elect, Donald Trump is chummy with President Vladimir Putin and there was contact between them during the Election campaign.
The confirmation was made Thursday by one Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov.
He even added that Mr. Putin’s aides were in touch with members of President-elect Donald Trump’s political team during the U.S. election campaign.
Accused by defeated Democratic contender Hillary Clinton of being a puppet of President Vladimir Putin after praising the Russian leader, Mr. Trump had dismissed suggestions he had anything to do with the Russian government during the campaign.
Reuters reported that Ryabkov’s comments could prove politically awkward for the president-elect.
“There were contacts,” Interfax cited Ryabkov as saying. “We are doing this and have been doing this during the election campaign.”
Such contacts would continue, he added, saying the Russian government knew and had been in touch with many of Mr. Trump’s closest allies. He did not name names.
“Obviously, we know most of the people from his (Trump’s)entourage. Those people have always been in the limelight in the United States and have occupied high-ranking positions,” he said.
“I cannot say that all of them, but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.”
Moscow was just beginning to consider how to go about setting up more formal channels to communicate with the future Trump administration, said Ryabkov.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a preliminary inquiry in recent months into allegations that Mr. Trump or his associates might have had questionable dealings with Russian people or businesses, but found no evidence to warrant opening a full investigation, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The agency has not publicly discussed the probe.
The U.S. government has blamed Russia for cyber attacks on Democratic Party organizations.
Mr. Trump, who has spoken of his desire to improve tattered U.S.-Russia ties, has said he might meet Putin before his inauguration, but Putin’s spokesman has said there are currently no plans for such a meeting.
Interfax reported on Wednesday that Dmitry Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, would be in New York this week for a chess tournament, a few blocks from Trump Tower, where the president-elect has his office.
But it cited Mr. Peskov as saying he did not plan to pass any message to Mr. Trump from Mr. Putin.
The Russian parliament erupted in applause on Wednesday when it heard that Mr. Trump had been elected and Mr. Putin told foreign ambassadors he was ready to fully restore ties with Washington.
Mr. Ryabkov was more circumspect though, saying the Russian Foreign Ministry felt no euphoria about the Republican’s win despite wanting to normalise relations with Washington.
Moscow and Washington are at odds over Syria, Ukraine and NATO.
Mr. Ryabkov said Mr. Trump’s allies had made some tough statements about Russia during the campaign and that his ministry was therefore not harbouring any “rose-tinted” hopes.
“We are not expecting anything in particular from the new U.S. administration,” Interfax quoted Mr. Ryabkov as saying.