Trump has a record of siding with Putin on key issues
Donald Trump has refused to condemn Russia's military takeover of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, saying if elected he would consider recognising it as Russian territory, in the latest of a series of statements that have raised eyebrows about the Republican candidate's intentions towards the Kremlin.
"We'll be looking at that. Yeah, we'll be looking," Trump told reporters on Wednesday.
Accepting Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea would be a radical departure from US policy. The United States and the European Union worked together to punish Russia by imposing economic sanctions and have shown no willingness to lift them.
While Trump has sided with Putin on a wide range of issues, Putin has not openly backed the Republican nominee and the Kremlin denies interfering in the US electoral process.
TRUMP THE FAVOURITE
Although the Russians "will keep their mouths tightly zipped until election day," they clearly prefer Trump, said Wayne Merry, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council and former diplomat at the US Embassy in Moscow.
"They don't know exactly what to expect from Donald Trump, but they think two things about him: One, that he has a number of advisers who they see as being relatively open-minded if not sympathetic about Russia. And second, they see him as a deal maker," Merry said.
"When they look at Hillary Clinton, they see somebody they really do not like."
On the personal level, Clinton is not the type of leader that Putin likes to deal with, said Mikhail Zygar, a Russian journalist and author of 'All the Kremlin's Men'.
"For him, it's very important to be respected and to be treated as a world leader, and to have his own agenda."