Vladimir Putin has revealed he and Donald Trump are on first name terms, as the Russian President spoke to the media during his four-hour, end-of-year news conference.
“This is how relations should be between people like us,” Mr Putin said to reporters at the marathon annual event.
He praised Mr Trump’s “accomplishments”, saying: “I’m not the one to evaluate the (US) President’s work. That needs to be done by the voters, the American people.
“(But) we are objectively seeing that there have been some major accomplishments, even in the short time he has been working.
“Look at how the markets have grown. This speaks to investors’ trust in the American economy.”
Mr Putin said claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election had been “invented” by Mr Trump’s enemies.
“The people who do this are dealing a blow to the state of (US) domestic politics,” he said.
Congressional and FBI investigations are under way into links between the Kremlin and Mr Trump’s campaign.
Ties between Moscow and Washington hit their lowest point since the Cold War during Barack Obama’s presidency because of the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s military intervention in Syria.
But the election of Mr Trump, who has previously praised Mr Putin as a “very smart” leader, has provided a boost for the Kremlin, with the Russian economy still struggling due to Western sanctions, low oil prices, high inflation and a battered currency.
Mr Putin said: “You have to ask him (Trump) if he has such a desire (to improve ties) … or whether it has disappeared. I hope that he has such a desire.”
He added Moscow and Washington had many common interests, citing the Middle East, North Korea and international terrorism.