Trump praises Putin for 'great move' not responding to Russia sanctions: 'I always knew he was very smart!'

President-elect Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday for his decision not to respond to sanctions levied by President Barack Obama's administration this week in retaliation for suspected election-related hacking.

"Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!" Trump tweeted.

The president-elect pinned the tweet to the top of his Twitter page. The message was also retweeted by the Russian Embassy in the US.

What Putin and Trump have said about each other
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What Putin and Trump have said about each other
At the end of 2015, Vladimir Putin lauded Trump's presidential campaign, calling him "an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it." 
In response to Putin's compliments Trump said: "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond."
Putin has called Trump a "very outstanding man" and "unquestionably talented."
When Russia continued its military buildup in Syria and Putin backed the country's President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, Trump declared the Russian leader earned an "A" in leadership. 
Trump not only gave the Russian leader an "A," he also said Putin has been a better leader than US President Barack Obama. "He is really very much of a leader," Trump said of Putin. "The man has very strong control over his country. Now, it's a very different system, and I don't happen to like the system, but certainly in that system he's been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader." 
At a national security forum in September, Trump explained his friendly relationship with Putin saying: "If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him." 
When asked about allegations that Putin orchestrated the deaths of his political opponents and journalists, Trump defended Putin: "I haven't seen any evidence that he killed anybody."
After Trump won the election November 8, Putin sent the president-elect a telegram congratulating him on his victory. 

Putin had said earlier that the Kremlin would "not resort to irresponsible 'kitchen' diplomacy" in response to the sanctions and the ejection of 35 Russian diplomats from the US.

"Although we have the right to retaliate," Putin said, Russia would instead "plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump administration."

Putin's move to stay silent was characterized by Michael Kofman, a global fellow at the Wilson Center who specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs, as "the most damaging and embarrassing answer [the US] could receive."

Trump has been reluctant to blame the election-related hacking on Russia, despite US intelligence agencies placing blame on the country for the cyberattacks.

Instead, the president-elect has repeatedly suggested he would like the US to have a warmer relationship with Russia and work together on issues like combatting terrorism.

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