Image: Vladimir Putin holds a joint news conference with the president of Moldova.

Vladimir Putin holds a joint news conference with the president of Moldova. Sergei Ilnitsky / AP

Putin said: “You know, there is category of people who leave without saying goodbye out of respect to the circumstances, in order not to disturb the way the things are. On the other hand, there are people who keep saying goodbye but never leave. I would put the leaving administration in the second category.

“What are we seeing in the U.S.? We are seeing a continuing heated political struggle, even though the elections are finished and they finished with Mr Trump’s conclusive victory.”

Putin said Trump’s opponents had “certain objectives.”

“Firstly, it is to undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect,” he continued. “Second, it is to tie the president’s arms and legs to prevent him from realizing his promises to the American people, both at home and abroad. How is it possible to make steps toward improving Russian-American relationships while all those fake stories are being thrown in?”

Putin went on to repeat Russia’s denial that it was involved in monitoring Trump during a past business trip.

“Does someone think that our intelligence services follow any American billionaire? Of course not, it’s absolutely absurd,” the Russian president said.

“But people who order such false statements, that are now being spread to compromise the newly-elected president of the USA, fabricate them and use them in their political struggle, those people are worse than prostitutes,” Putin said. “They don’t have any moral boundaries.”