Russian President, Vladimir Putin says United States Democrats had impeached President Donald Trump for fabricated reasons in order to reverse his 2016 election victory.

Speaking at his annual year-end news conference on Thursday, Putin said he expects that Trump would survive the proceedings and remain in office.

The US House of Representatives dominated by the Democrats had on Wednesday voted to impeach Trump but Putin, like most observers said he expected the Senate dominated by the Republicans to acquit him.

Putin said: “It’s unlikely they will want to remove from power a representative of their party based on what are, in my opinion, completely fabricated reasons.

“This is simply a continuation of the intra-political battle where one party that lost an election, the Democratic Party is trying to achieve results using other methods and means.

“They first accused Trump of a conspiracy with Russia. Then it turned out there wasn’t a conspiracy and that it couldn’t be the basis for impeachment. Now they have dreamt up some kind of pressure being exerted on Ukraine.”

He  nevertheless criticized the US in general for what he described as unfriendly steps towards Russia, saying Moscow had adopted a policy of responding in kind.

Particularly, he complained about what he said was a refusal to respond to Moscow’s proposals to extend the New START arms control treaty which limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the world’s two biggest nuclear powers can deploy.

Regarded by many experts as the only thing preventing an unfettered arms race between the two Cold War rivals, the treaty can be extended for another five years, beyond its expiry date in February 2021 by mutual agreement.