Experts say US-Russia relations to remain at standstill


Tension between Moscow and Washington went up and experts has been foreseeing US-Russia relations will got worse due to sanctions against each other.

As U.S. and Russian foreign ministers are set to cross paths on Friday, Russian experts entertain low expectations for a productive outcome from potential meetings.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his American counterpart Rex Tillerson are expected to meet on the sidelines of the 24th ASEAN Regional Forum in the capital of Philippines, Manila.

"There were many meetings and phone talks between the representatives of the new American administration and the Russian government. Both sides talk about 'useful negotiations' and after that, relations get worse," Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs magazine, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

Lukyanov said the atmosphere surrounding the bilateral relations was "terrible", in some ways "worse" than during the Cold War.

"In my opinion it happens because the degree of respect is much lower now. The U.S. does not respect Russia as much as they respected the USSR," he added.

Tension between Moscow and Washington went up a notch after U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, all the while voicing major objections to its provisions.

Russia, for its part, announced countermeasures, including cutting the total number of personnel employed in U.S. diplomatic and consular offices in Russia, and suspending the use of a summer residence in Moscow.

Moscow also said it reserves the right to resort to other measures affecting U.S. interests on a retaliatory basis.

Evgeny Satanovsky, director of the Institute of the Middle East, is pessimistic about seeing relations improving anytime soon.

"I do not see such a sincere desire from the American side [to improve relations] and the meeting is more about not letting the situation get worse rather than improving relations," he said.

Alexey Panin, director of the political consulting agency Urus Advisory, said distrust in Russia had grown due to the American administration's "ambiguous" position.

"Even if Lavrov and Tillerson come to some understandings, no agreement will be reached," Panin said.

While some, especially in Moscow, had been tempted to view Trump's election as favorable to Russian interests, the U.S. president, who had voiced his intent to work with President Vladimir Putin, has had his hands tied by ongoing investigations.

Indeed, a Senate intelligence committee, its House counterpart and the FBI, are conducting separate investigations into what U.S. intelligence officials have called a Russian "influence campaign" aimed at tilting last year's election in Trump's favor, and whether the Trump campaign participated in the effort.

Distrust towards Trump was none so clear than in the passage of the sanctions bill this week by Congress as not only did it apply new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, it also made it harder for an American president to roll back new sanctions, as well as older ones on Russia.

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