As both men speak openly about bolstering their nuclear arsenals, President-elect Donald Trump shared a “very nice letter” he says was sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The letter notes that serious global and regional challenges “show that the relations between Russia and the U.S. remain an important factor in ensuring stability and security in the modern world.” The letter, which the Trump team describes as an unofficial translation, is dated Dec. 15.
Trump said in response that Putin’s “thoughts are so correct,” adding, he hopes “both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path.”
The text was sent as an attachment to a statement from Trump’s transition team Friday.
The sentiments from and about the letter seem in sharp contrast to a remarks both leaders have made in recent days about increasing their respective countries’ nuclear arsenals.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted that he believes the U.S. needs to “expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
The tweet has concerned many in the international community as it directly contradicts over 30 years of U.S. policy for nuclear nonproliferation.
His comments on Twitter came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin told his defense ministry that strengthening his country’s nuclear capabilities should be a chief military objective in the coming year.
Speaking at Friday’s end-of-year news conference, on Friday, Putin said the Russian military’s nuclear missiles can penetrate any missile defense. He added that “it’s not us who have been speeding up the arms race.”
He argued that the modernization of Russian nuclear forces is in line with existing arms control agreements, including the New Start Treaty with the United States. Faced with the development of U.S. missile defense systems, Putin claims Russia has developed nuclear weapons capable of piercing it.
MSNBC reported Friday that Trump said: “Let it be an arms race, because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” The network’s “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski said Trump made the statement in a phone call with her.
But at the annual news conference on Friday, Putin said Russia has no desire to pursue a renewed nuclear arms race and didn’t seem phased by Trumps remarks.
“Of course the U.S. has more missiles, submarines and aircraft carriers, but what we say is that we are stronger than any aggressor, and this is the case,” Putin said, adding, “As for Donald Trump, there is nothing new about it, during his elections campaign he said the U.S. needs to bolster its nuclear capabilities and its armed forces in general.”
Putin also stated he hoped to have a productive relationship with Trump. “Nobody believed he would win except for us,” he said.
Story compiled with content from The Associated Press.