Ryabkov Regrets Russia-US Ties 'Have Not Passed Strength Tests'

by Garry Watts August 9, 2017, 0:09
Ryabkov Regrets Russia-US Ties 'Have Not Passed Strength Tests'

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that Washington will respond by September 1 to Russia's move to force a major reduction in American diplomatic staff, a move that echoed former President Barack Obama's action to kick out Russian diplomats for Moscow's meddling in the 2016 American election.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he has told his Russian counterpart that Moscow's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election created "serious mistrust" between the two countries.

"We see statements reflecting the sentiments of a large part of the European population, especially those who are more interested in normal relations with Russian Federation, including the economic ones", Ryabkov said.

The meeting was the first high-level contact between the two countries since U.S. President Donald Trump last week reluctantly signed new sanctions into law to punish Russian Federation for interfering in the 2016 presidential election to help him win.

The sanctions, which passed both houses of Congress by overwhelming majorities despite Trump's objections, in part target the Russian energy sector, with new limits on US investment in Russian companies.

While Tillerson noted that Russian election interference had "created serious mistrust between our two countries", Trump has continued to express doubt about the meddling, especially while stressing his distrust in the US intelligence community. "I don't think it is useful to just cut everything off on one single issue", he said. Additionally, the new law will punish individuals for investing more than $5 million a year or $1 million at a time in Russian energy export pipeline projects or providing such enterprises with services, technology or information support, a provision that has drawn strong condemnation from Washington's European allies.

Russian Federation has denied seeking to sway the USA election and Trump has denied any collusion.

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Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential elections "seriously" damaged relations between the two countries, Tillerson said, but he signaled his readiness to work with Russian Federation.

But Lavrov reportedly explained to Tillerson how Russia plans to follow through on its demand for a USA personnel cut, according to public remarks by the longtime Russian foreign minister after the meeting. That echoed what Tillerson told reporters Tuesday, "We can't let [sanctions] take us off track of trying to restore the relationship". According to Andrew Weiss, an analyst at Carnegie Endowment, Russia's anger at the ongoing Russia probe on last year's USA election has been worsened by the new sanctions.

The Trump administration has been seeking closer ties to Russian Federation, especially on fighting ISIS and pressuring North Korea.

To date, more than 13.9 million Mir cards have been issued in Russia, to roughly 10 percent of the country's population, according to the Russian National System of Payment Cards. At the same time, we are ready to normalise relations if Washington abandons its confrontational line.

"These discussions are all aimed at strengthening the old friendship between the two countries", the state-run news-wire service quoted DFA's official statement.

"By limiting the executive's flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia and North Korea much closer together", Trump said Wednesday.

He said he met Mr Lavrov to "help them understand how serious this incident had been and how seriously it damaged the relationship". "Other current worldwide matters, including the internal conflict in Ukraine, were also discussed", the Ministry wrote.

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