President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he hoped the U.S. could "get along" with Russia as he met at the White House on Tuesday with the leaders of the Baltic states.
"I think I could have a very good relationship with [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin," Trump said. "There is also a great possibility that that won't happen. Who knows, OK?"
Trump boasted that "nobody has been tougher on Russia," but insisted more open lines of communication between himself and the Russian leader would benefit the U.S.
"Getting along with Russia would be a good thing, not a bad thing," he said. "And just about everybody agrees to that, except very stupid people."
WATCH: US Russia Summit
But experts say escalating tensions in the aftermath of the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain make this a bad time for Trump to invite Putin to the White House. Moscow denies responsibility for the poison attack in Britain.
Luke Coffee of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative-leaning public policy research group, told VOA, "Having regular communication with President Putin is one thing, and a responsible thing, and something that we did even in the height of the Cold War. But having a summit, whether it is in Moscow or Washington, D.C., it is the wrong time for that."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that Trump and Putin had "discussed a bilateral meeting in the not-too-distant future'" in their most recent phone conversation, and that the White House was one possible venue.
VOA Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine and Myroslava Gongadze of VOA's Ukrainian Service contributed original reporting.