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I don't trust Vladimir Putin, former US ambassador to Russia says

President Barack Obama took an important step when he imposed sanctions on those who he believes were involved in alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering told CNBC on Friday.

Pickering also believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is not to be trusted.

"[Obama] did what he had to do in order to send the signal and hopefully deter more fooling around, if you could call it that way, in cyberattacks or cybermisuse to influence U.S. elections and perhaps other elements of U.S. internal politics," he said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

"I would expect that the president-elect one way or another ought to be concerned about that."

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Srdjan Zivulovic | Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin

On Friday, Donald Trump praised Putin for holding off on retaliating for the U.S. actions, which included sanctions on nine entities and individuals and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats.

In a tweet, Trump called it a "great move" for Putin to wait before retaliating, adding that "I always knew he was very smart!"


Pickering said there has been a steady drumbeat of anti-Americanism in Russia, which he thinks Putin is using to bolster his position at home and move back into the center of importance in international affairs.

And while he doesn't trust Putin, he said the U.S. still has to find a way to work with him.

"We have to deal with the people who are on the other side regardless of whether we have a lot of trust in them or not. And watch what they do, as well as what they say," Pickering said.

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.