President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump tweets get-well wishes to Bush family Overnight Tech: Five tech takeaways from Commerce pick's hearing | Groups accuse Facebook of 'censorship' | Wireless auction moves ahead | Pokemon Go at Davos Pence: I’m ‘confident’ in Trump’s health pick MORE on Friday praised Vladimir Putin and shared a Christmas letter the Russian president sent him.
"A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct," Trump said in a statement. "I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path."
In the attached letter, Putin emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two countries.
"I hope that after you assume the position of the President of the United States of America we will be able – by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner - to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level," the Russian leader wrote.
The statement comes amid a new controversy over Trump's nuclear plans and fears that it could spark a new arms race with Russia.
The president-elect tweeted on Thursday that he supported strengthening the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Those comments came on the same day that Putin made similar statements about his own country's arsenal.
The remarks alarmed arms-control advocates. And on Friday morning, Mika Brzezinski, the co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" reported that Trump had suggested to her that he was open to engaging in a nuclear arms race with Russia.
Trump advisers on Friday sought to downplay the controversy.
Sean Spicer, Trump's incoming White House press secretary, insisted that Trump's tweet was actually intended to be a warning to other countries that he would not let U.S. security be threatened by an arms race.
“[T]here’s not going to be [an arms race] because he is going to ensure that other countries get the message he is not going to sit back and allow that,” Spicer said on NBC's "Today."
Trump's comments about Putin on Friday will also likely increase scrutiny of his stance toward Russia.
The U.S. intelligence community has publicly accused Russia of interfering in the presidential election. A secret CIA assessment reportedly concluded that the Kremlin interfered specifically to help Trump win.
But both Trump and Putin have denied Russian involvement.
Trump has been dismissive of the intelligence assessments and has heaped praise on Putin. Trump's pick for secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has also come under criticism for his Russian ties. Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, has had business dealing with Russia and is said to be friendly with Putin.
— This story was updated at 11:43 a.m.