Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump may have caused a rift in his relationship with Vladimir Putin after featuring the Russian president in a campaign video.
“I saw this clip. I do not know for sure if Vladimir Putin saw it. [But] our attitude is negative,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.
“It’s an open secret for us that demonizing Russia and whatever is linked to Russia is unfortunately a mandatory hallmark of America’s election campaign," he added. "We always sincerely regret this and wish the [U.S.] electoral process was conducted without such references to our country.”
The Trump campaign released a video on Wednesday using two different clips of Putin.
First, it uses footage of him doing karate as it lists the "toughest opponents" the U.S. president will have to deal with. (It then moves to footage of what looks to be an Islamic State propaganda video, with a fighter pointing his gun at the camera.) Second, it shows him laughing at a clip of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who once barked like a dog during a town hall earlier this year.
The Trump-Putin bromance began when the business mogul repeatedly said he would aim to work with the Russian president, adding that he supported Putin's military activity in Syria.
They just get each other, Trump said, because they had once appeared in the same segment on CBS's "60 Minutes," even though they were in different cities.
The relationship intensified in December when the men traded compliments from across the globe.
Trump defended Putin against allegations that he has killed dissident journalists, telling ABC News that he hasn't seen any evidence. "At least he's a leader. You know, unlike what we have in this country," he added on MSNBC.
Putin responded warmly, praising Trump as "flamboyant," "very talented" and "an absolute leader" of the presidential race.
Trump then regaled in being "so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond."
“If Putin respects me, and if Putin wants to call me brilliant and other things that he said which were, frankly, very nice, I'll accept that and I'll accept that on behalf of our country,” he continued. “Because if we get along well with Russia, that's a positive thing.”
Other Republican presidential candidates jumped to criticize the budding bromance. Ohio Gov. John Kasich went so far as to disseminate a mock press release announcing that Trump had named Putin as his running mate.