WASHINGTON – US president-elect Donald Trump says he will offer to end sanctions against Russia in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal with the Kremlin, a British newspaper said.

The incoming US president told The Times of London in an interview that he wanted nuclear weapons arsenals of the world’s two biggest nuclear powers – the United States and Russia – to be “reduced very substantially”.

“They have sanctions on Russia – let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it,” Trump was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

On December 22, the same man tweeted that the US must “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”.

Around the same time, Russian leader Vladimir Putin also called for the strengthening of “strategic nuclear forces”.

In Monday’s interview, Donald Trump said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an alliance formed to counter the military power of the former USSR, has become obsolete. NATO has not been “taking care of terror”, he said.

Trump also criticised Russia for its intervention in the Syrian war, describing it as “a very bad thing” that had led to a “terrible humanitarian situation”.

The interview was conducted by Michael Gove, a Conservative Party member and prominent Brexit campaigner who is known to be close to Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News.

News of Trump’s plan came as the outgoing CIA chief said that Trump lacks a full understanding of the threat Moscow poses to the US.

Director of Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan’s message on national television came five days before Trump becomes the nation’s 45th president, amid lingering questions about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“Now that he’s going to have an opportunity to do something for our national security as opposed to talking and tweeting, he’s going to have tremendous responsibility to make sure that US and national security interests are protected,” Brennan said on Fox News, warning that the president-elect’s impulsiveness could be dangerous.

“Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests,” Brennan said.

The Obama administration had last month expelled 35 Russian diplomats over the US election hacking row.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin unexpectedly did not retaliate against the US for the sanctions or the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, a decision Trump quickly praised.

“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Trump tweeted.

Trump has repeatedly called for a better relationship between the US and Putin’s government.