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How top world leaders reacted to Putin's re-election

Putin
Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin cruised to victory in Russia's presidential election Sunday, gaining 76.7% of the vote in a contest widely condemned for ballot stuffing and a lack of genuine competition. Nonetheless, leaders around the world have publicly and privately congratulated Russia's strongman as he embarks on his 18th year as head of state.

Why it matters: Putin's list of congratulations give a window into the geopolitical state of play in Europe and around the world. It's worth reading into the language of the leaders who chose to reach out — and, perhaps more notably, those who didn't.

  • United States: Trump spoke with Putin on Tuesday and congratulated him on his victory.
  • China: Fellow strongman Xi Jinping sent Putin a congratulatory message, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency: "Currently, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is at the best level in history, which sets an example for building a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, cooperation and all-win results, and a community with a shared future for mankind."
  • France: President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Putin on the phone Sunday, despite tensions over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the U.K.: "In the name of France, the French president offered Russia and the Russian people his wishes for success with the modernization of the country on the political, democratic, economic and social fronts," the Elysee said in a statement.
  • Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel sent Putin a congratulatory telegram Monday: "Dear Mr. President, with all my heart I congratulate you on your reelection as Russian president. Today, it is vitally important to continue dialogue and maintain relations between our countries and nations. With this in mind, we should take efforts for constructive work on major bilateral and international problems to find proper solutions. I wish you success in your work to resolve the tasks facing you."
  • Other countries who sent congrats: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela
  • Missing from the list: The United Kingdom. A spokesperson for Theresa May said it will issue a statement on behalf of the U.K. when the election has been assessed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Jonathan Swan 10 hours ago
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Inside Trump's week of European visits

Photos: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images; Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This week in Washington will be dominated by two foreign visitors: French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife's visit will culminate with the first state dinner of Trump's presidency at the White House on Tuesday night — then, on Friday, Trump hosts German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

What we're hearing: Macron hopes to persuade Trump to work with the Europeans to fix the Iran nuclear deal rather than to follow his instincts and tear up the deal next month by reimposing American sanctions on Iran.

Jonathan Swan 10 hours ago
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Trump asked Netanyahu if he genuinely cares about peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump at the White House in March. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In a phone call last year with Bibi Netanyahu, President Trump said something that shocked some of the people who helped prepare his briefing materials for the conversations. According to three sources familiar with the call, Trump asked Bibi bluntly if he actually cares about peace or not.

The details: Trump was pressing Bibi on the importance of striking a "deal" for Mideast peace. He'd read news reports about Bibi planning to build additional settlements to please his conservative base in Israel. Trump thought Bibi was unnecessarily angering the Palestinians. So, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, he bluntly asked Bibi whether or not he genuinely wants peace.