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Flashback: Obama Congratulated Putin on His 2012 Election

President Barack Obama chats with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin prior to a working session at the Group of 20 (G20) leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey, November 16, 2015. (Kayhan Ozer/Pool/Reuters)

Forgotten by some amid the controversy over President Trump’s congratulatory phone call to newly elected Russian president Vladimir Putin is that Barack Obama called the Kremlin to congratulate Putin on winning a third term in 2012.

Trump phoned Putin on Tuesday to congratulate him on winning a fourth term, in an election marred by international accusations of fraud.

President Obama made a similar call on March 9, 2012.

“President Obama called Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Putin to congratulate him on his recent victory in the Russian Presidential election,” the Obama White House said in a statement late that Friday. “President Obama highlighted achievements in U.S.-Russia relations over the past three years with President Medvedev, including cooperation on Afghanistan, the conclusion and ratification of the START agreement, Russia’s recent invitation to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and cooperation on Iran. President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed that the successful reset in relations should be built upon during the coming years.”

At the time, Moscow was already providing military aid to the brutal regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as it fought to survive in the country’s brutal civil war, a fact that the statement obliquely acknowledged: “President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed to continue discussions on areas where the United States and Russia have differed, including Syria and missile defense.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe voiced concerns about the 2012 Russian election, saying that “conditions were clearly skewed” in favor of Putin. The OSCE has also accused the Russian government of creating an “overly controlled environment” and ensuring that there was a “lack of genuine competition” in last week’s vote.

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