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President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia’s contacts with representatives of U.S. President Donald Trump before the 2016 Presidential election were a worldwide practice, noting that U.S. reaction looked like a “spy mania.”

“Our ambassador was accused of having met with someone. It’s a universal practice when diplomatic representatives, when even members of the government meet with all the candidates and their teams, discuss some issues, prospects for development, seek to understand what will some or other people do if they come to power, how to react to this.

“Why did someone see something extraordinary there, and why does it all have to turn into some kind of spy mania?” Putin said at the annual news conference.

Putin said that some in the U.S. are trying to delegitimise the work of Trump, not realising that they are causing damage to the country.

“All this was made up by the people who are in opposition to Trump in order to give his work an illegitimate character,” Putin said at his annual press conference when commenting on possible contacts between Trump’s team members with Russia.

The president noted that such accusations seemed strange to him as they harm people in the United States above all.

“And for me it’s even strange, I’m telling you quite frankly, because it’s done as if without understanding that the people who do this damage the domestic political state of the country, bleeding dry the capabilities of the elected head of state.

“This means that they treat the voters who voted for him disrespectfully,” Putin said.

He said Russia and the U.S. could work more effectively on many issues if they joined efforts.

“There are many things that we could do more effectively than we have been doing up to this moment, in the interests of our citizens, if we joined efforts,” Putin said.

The president said that he was hoping for the normalization of relations.

“I am expecting that we will be able to normalize our relations, in the interests of US and Russian citizens, and will keep developing, overcoming threats to both of us.

“They are well-known: terrorism, the fight for the environment, economy, the fight against the spread of weapons of mass destruction, overcoming crises in various regions of the world, including the Middle East, the North Korean problem,” Putin said.

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