Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that his US counterpart Donald Trump had made some "fairly serious achievements" since he took office and derided what he called the "espionage mania" surrounding meetings held by Trump associates with Russian officials.
The Trump administration has been embroiled for months in investigations into potential collusion between Russian operatives and Trump associates during the 2016 US presidential campaign and transition -- a claim Trump fiercely denies.
Asked for his assessment of Trump's first year in office during his annual end-of-year press conference in Moscow, Putin said that "objectively we can see a number of fairly serious achievements over the short period he's been working."
He cited the strength of the markets as an example, saying this indicated "investor confidence in the American economy, which means that they trust what President Trump is doing in this area."
Putin also dismissed the US investigations into potential collusion, saying it was normal practice for governments to meet with officials from other election campaigns as well as governments. He said the issue had been "dreamed up" by Trump's opponents in an effort to discredit him.
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