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Russia Slams “Malicious Campaign” Waged By Unknown Americans To Damage Ties

Friday, March 3, 2017 5:11
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With the Russian ambassador’s meetings seemingly a daily fixture in the CIA/FBI-leaked NYT or WaPo front page news, Russia warned on Friday that efforts to restore relations with the U.S. are being harmed by a “malicious campaign” waged by unknown Americans over meetings between its envoy to Washington and President Donald Trump’s administration.

In an interview in Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, the political controversy over Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s contacts with U.S. officials is “harming our relations which are already in a bad condition, having been deliberately destroyed by the Obama administration.” He added that “it’s clear that the current situation hinders the restoration of these relations on a positive path of development.”

Russia seeks “practical cooperation in areas where such cooperation is needed” with the U.S., including on counter-terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation, economic investment and a settlement to the Syrian war, Ryabkov said adding that “we’ll continue to work hard” to restore relations.

Over the past week, controversy over meetings with the ambassador prompted AG Jeff Sessions to recuse himself Thursday from investigations into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, and led to Michael Flynn’s ouster as national security adviser last month Bloomberg adds.

Following years of confrontation with the U.S. under President Barack Obama, Russian officials saw hope for better ties when Trump took office. However, the Kremlin is becoming increasingly frustrated over the lack of progress after Trump heaped praise on President Vladimir Putin during the campaign and pledged to work with him, including in fighting terrorism.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said Tuesday that Trump should make good on his pledge to mount a joint fight against Islamic State in Syria and there’d been “enough talk about it.” In his first speech to Congress on Tuesday, Trump didn’t mention Russia or Putin even as he declared that the U.S. is “willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align.”

Meanwhile, also on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the U.S. ambassador’s presence at peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, has been the only contact on Syria so far. Speaking in a conference call, Peskov said that “there haven’t been any other substantive contacts, nor any movement in terms of interaction and cooperation in fighting terrorism

“That’s regrettable, but on the other hand, it’s probably explained by the early stage” of new U.S. administration.
He also said taht the Kremlin has nothing to add to U.S. President Donald Trump’s description of U.S. controversy over Russia ties as “witch hunt.”

On the topic of a planned increase in U.S. defense spending, Peskov said that Russia isn’t concerned as long as the strategic balance is not affected, and also noted that Russia isn’t interfering in French presidential election campaign.


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