Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s greetings to other world leaders had one glaring omission.
In a letter, Putin congratulated President-elect Donald Trump rather than President Barack Obama—he completely left Obama off the list.
Putin did, however, send his seasonal greetings to Obama and his family in a separate statement published Friday after responding to sanctions against Russia put forth by the United States.
He greeted French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May, and Pope Francis in an address, as Independent Journal Review reported.
But in that lengthy message, he didn’t mention Obama. The entire message was posted on the Kremlin’s website, mentioning many former leaders:
In addition, the President wished a happy Christmas and New Year to a number of former heads of state and government, as well as politicians, in particular, Helmut Kohl, Gerhard Schroeder, King Juan Carlos I, Silvio Berlusconi, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Tarja Halonen, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Fillon.
As Time magazine reported, Putin usually sends a New Year’s greeting to the U.S. president.
U.S. intelligence officials have alleged that Russian hackers meddled in the affairs of the election, with some going as far as saying that hackers swayed it in favor of Trump. Obama responded by kicking out 35 Russian diplomatic staff members from the U.S. and slapping new sanctions on Russia.
Putin, meanwhile, said he would not expel 35 American diplomats from Russia in retaliation, essentially hedging his bets on the president-elect’s administration taking a more moderate stance on Russia. On Friday, Trump described Putin’s “great move” as “very smart” on Twitter.
“While we reserve the right to take reciprocal measures, we’re not going to downgrade ourselves to the level of irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy,” Putin said, as the New York Times reported. “In our future steps on the way toward the restoration of Russia-United States relations, we will proceed from the policy pursued by the administration” of the president-elect.
At the same time, Trump and Putin have denied that Russia hacked the election.