Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised President Donald Trump for his economic policy that has boosted growth in the U.S.
"Mr Trump has carried through the tax reform that has propped up the economic growth in the U.S. at a high level and the imports to the United States have increased," Putin said during a panel hosted by NBC News at the Russian Energy Week in Moscow.
"Under President Obama, our mutual trade from $30 billion fell down to $20 billion, but in two years of Trump's presidency it rebounded to $25 billion per annum. This is what matters to us and what we take into account," Putin said, according to a translation.
Putin's comments come at a time after the Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that U.S. manufacturing activity fell last month to its lowest level in more than 10 years.
Putin said that while Russia and the United States haven't arrived at a bright future at this point in time, he hopes the bilateral relationship will come back to normal.
"We see that the position of President Trump himself has not changed as it has been voiced publicly. He wants restoration of the bilateral relationship. We welcome that. We will use any opportunity to implement that," Putin said.
While defending Trump's stance on Russia, Putin said that the "political infighting" in the U.S. was happening even before he met Trump.
"We had never had any affinity or special close relationship with the U.S. Now we have steady, confidence-based, as I see it, relationship, but the proximity between us has not impacted on the infighting in the United States," Putin said.
"Scandals in the United States had emerged before we met with President Trump for the first time so no proximity here. But now we are witnessing what has been happening in the United States. They have been using each and every pretext to attack President Trump, lash out at him. Now they have been citing Ukraine and related squabbles and relationship with President (Volodymyr) Zelensky. We have nothing to do with that," Putin said.
On being asked whether Russia is meddling with 2020 elections in the U.S., Putin stated that Russia has a lot of its own problems and issues and is doing a lot to resolve them.
"We face huge and major goals in economic and welfare development…..Why intervene in some country's elections?"
Putin further added that Russia has better things to do than meddle with elections in other countries. He said Russia will work with any president of the United States. "If this is Mr. Trump, we will keep working with him, otherwise we will work with someone else.
Putin also stated that countries around the world are reducing their holdings of the U.S. dollar and are now switching to other currencies when trading.
He further warned that U.S. policies of using the dollar as a political tool will backfire.
"With respect to the U.S. dollar, it is a special topic to discuss. We can see that the dollar is used as a political weapon, which is another major blunder, because the dollar used to have a lot of confidence worldwide," Putin said.
"It was the only universal currency globally but all of a sudden, the United States started using dollar settlements as a tool of political struggle and impose limitations on the use of dollar."
Since 2013, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) has been trying to reduce the number of transactions conducted in U.S. dollars, either for domestic payments or foreign trade.