"If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?" he asked.
Trump also said that once he's sworn in as the 45th president, he will happily meet with Putin. "I understand that they would like to meet, and that’s absolutely fine with me," he said.
Also noteworthy was Trump's suggestion that the American "One China" policy -- which views Taiwan as part of China, not as a separate country -- could be modified.
"Everything is under negotiation including 'One China,'" Trump told The Wall Street Journal.
Such a move would anger China, considering it views Taiwan as a renegade province. China, for example, lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. after Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call last month from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.
Trump has repeatedly said in the past that he would label China a currency manipulator, but he told The Wall Street Journal he's not looking to do that on his first day in the Oval Office. "I would talk to them first," he said. "Certainly they are manipulators. But I'm not looking to do that."
But he didn't back down from his previous criticism of the Chinese. "Instead of saying, 'We're devaluating our currency,' they say, 'Oh, our currency is dropping.' It's not dropping," he said. "They're doing it on purpose ... Our companies can't compete with them now because our currency is strong and it’s killing us."