Since then, Moscowâs hopes of a swift warming of ties under Mr. Trump have evaporated amid investigations in Washington into whether Mr. Trumpâs campaign colluded with Russia before the election.
Echoing Mr. Trumpâs own repeated assertion that the Russia investigations were âfake newsâ ginned up by crestfallen Democrats to explain Hillary Clintonâs defeat, Mr. Putin said he did not consider the various inquiries in Washington as investigations âbecause an investigation envisages full clarification of all circumstances, studying and hearing various parties.â He added, âWe see just an increase in anti-Russia hysteria.â
He derided efforts to clarify any links between members of Mr. Trumpâs campaign staff and Moscow as âjust the use of Russophobic tools in an internal political struggle, in this case the struggle between President Trump and his political opponents.â
Yet, with Russian legislators already clamoring for âpainfulâ measures against the United States in retaliation for the new American sanctions, Mr. Putin seemed eager to slow momentum toward a tit-for-tat diplomatic ruckus that would leave relations even more strained than they were under Mr. Obama.
In December Mr. Putin, hoping for rapprochement under Mr. Trump, declined to respond to Mr. Obamaâs expulsion of 35 Russian diplomatic staff members and the seizure of Russian diplomatic property. Mr. Obama said such measures were to punish Moscow for its interference in last yearâs presidential election.
Mr. Putin said on Thursday that Russia had so far been ârestrained and patientâ in response to what he said were constant provocations by the United States. But he indicated this would not continue indefinitely. âAt a certain moment we will have to respond,â he said. âIt is impossible to put up forever with this boorishness toward our country.â
Mr. Putin visited Finland to help mark the…