Donald Trump denied meeting Vladimir Putin during the final presidential debate, despite having claimed several times in the past to have met the Russian president.

"I dont know Putin. I have no idea," Mr Trump said. "I never met Putin. This is not my best friend."

When Hillary Clinton said it was "pretty clear" Mr Putin would "rather have a puppet as president of the United States," the Republican replied: “You’re the puppet. You’re the puppet.

“She doesn’t like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way.”

At another point in the debate, he said: "I have nothing to do with Putin. I've never spoken to him.

"I don't know anything about him other than he will respect me."

However, Mr Trump has boasted several times in the past of his relationship with Mr Putin, according to PolitiFact.

When asked in an MSNBC interview in November 2013 if he had a relationship with Mr Putin, Mr Trump replied: "I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he's very interested in what we're doing here today.

"He's probably very interested in what you and I am saying today, and I'm sure he's going to be seeing it in some form."

Addressing the CPAC conference in March 2014, he said: "You know, I was in Moscow a couple of months ago. I own the Miss Universe Pageant and they treated me so great. Putin even sent me a present, a beautiful present."

He also told the National Press Club in May 2014: "I own Miss Universe, I was in Russia, I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success."

When asked what he would do in response to Russia invading Ukraine at the Fox Business News debate in November 2015, Mr Trump said: "As far as the Ukraine is concerned… if Putin wants to go in, and I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates, and we did very well that night."

Time Magazine debunked Mr Trump's claim to have appeared on the show with Mr Putin, writing: "In fact, they weren’t even on the same continent."

In their fact check of the debate, the Washington Post concluded the Republican candidate has never met the Russian president.

In 2013, Mr Trump tweeted: "Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?"