Story highlights

Putin congratulates Trump on "historic" win

President-elect was criticized during the campaign for ties to Kremlin

CNN  — 

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone with US President-elect Donald Trump Monday, according to statements from the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.

Putin “called to offer his congratulations on winning a historic election,” according to a Trump statement. The two leaders discussed issues including shared threats, strategic economic issues and the historical US-Russia relationship.

The two men also spoke about working to normalize relations between the two countries and emphasized the importance of creating a foundation of bilateral ties through trade, the Kremlin said.

They also discussed the need for “joint efforts in the fight against common enemy No. 1” – international terrorism and extremism.

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Russia factor

Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Trump on his win, after a campaign dogged by alleged Russian hacking and Trump’s cozy relationship with the Kremlin.

Trump praised Putin as a strong leader even as US officials accused Moscow of meddling in the election by leaking hacked Democratic campaign emails to undermine Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

Multiple critics of Putin have been outspoken in their shock at Trump’s win. “Russia was a democracy, if briefly,” wrote Gary Kasparov on Twitter. “Then Trump’s idol won our last real election.”

Masha Gessen, author of “The Man With No Face,” a biography of Putin, drew parallels between the Russian leader and Trump in a piece for the New York Review of Books on “rules for surviving in an autocracy.”

Changing ties

During the campaign, Trump was criticized for saying that Putin “is not going into Ukraine,” two years after the invasion of Crimea. He later claimed that he meant as President he would not allow further incursions.

The President-elect also made a habit of questioning NATO’s relevance, a departure from over 60 years of bipartisan foreign policy. Putin has been a long time critic of the alliance’s expansion into eastern Europe.

However, on Monday, in his first news conference after Trump’s election, President Barack Obama said that Trump had told him he was committed to NATO.

Last week, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN that he hoped Trump would help improve relations between Washington and Moscow.

“Because what we have currently is a very lousy relationship,” he said.