Kremlin denies arms race after Putin’s claims about new nuclear weapons

Kremlin denies arms race after Putin’s claims about new nuclear weapons

The Kremlin denied Friday that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s claims that Russia has tested a new generation of nuclear weapons were intended to start a renewed arms race with the United States.

“The president said this should absolutely not be seen as the beginning of an arms race,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters in a briefing call Friday, saying it was an “asymmetric response” to U.S. efforts to develop an anti-missile shield.

PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, including the State Duma parliamentarians, members of the Federation Council, regional governors and other high-ranking officials, in Moscow, March 1, 2018.Sputnik/Alexei Nikolskyi/Kremlin/Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, including the State Duma parliamentarians, members of the Federation Council, regional governors and other high-ranking officials, in Moscow, March 1, 2018.

The day before, Putin had used an annual state of the nation speech to tout an arsenal of new doomsday weapons, including nuclear-armed underwater drones and a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

Putin, who added that the missiles were invulnerable to interception, said the weapons were entirely defensive and said they were intended to preserve the nuclear balance between the U.S. and Russia.

Uncertainty quickly emerged surrounding the existence of the weapons. Meanwhile, U.S. officials downplayed some of the Putin’s claims, saying that the nuclear-powered cruise missile was not yet operational and had crashed during recent testing.

PHOTO: Russian Sarmat strategic missile demonstrated during Russian President Vladimir Putins address to the Federal Assembly at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2018.Kremlin/EPA via Shutterstock
Russian Sarmat strategic missile demonstrated during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2018.

Putin, however, presented the weapons as fundamentally new and as lifting Russia into a new stage of military power that would keep it on a par with the U.S. for the foreseeable future.

“This is not a bluff,” Putin told an audience of Russia’s elite gathered for the speech near the Kremlin. The attempt to contain Russia has failed.”

Standing in front of giant screens, Putin played a series of videos that mostly demonstrated the half dozen weapons in clunky computer graphic simulations. One of the videos showed a simulation of warheads from a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile called the “Sarmat.”

Describing another weapon, a hypersonic nuclear missile called “Avangard,” Putin said it as falling to earth “like a burning sphere.” Speaking about the nuclear-power cruise missile, Putin told the audience that “no one else in the world had anything like it.”

“It would be wrong to interpret it as some militarist statement,” Peskov told reporters.

Peskov said Putin’s unveiling of the weapons was “nothing but the response” to the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Cold War-era Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, which prohibited the deployment of ballistic missile defense systems.

“Russia is not going to get dragged into any arms race,” Peskov said.

Russia is not developing systems to “neutralize” its opponents’ strategic nuclear forces, he said, insisting its new weapons were about restoring parity, not challenging it.

The Pentagon’s chief spokeswoman, Dana White, on Thursday denied the missile shield was the reason for the Russian weapons.

“They know very well that it’s not about them,” she told reporters.

The Pentagon largely shrugged at Putin’s menacing comments. White said it was “not surprised” by Putin’s announcement and that the U.S. was fully prepared.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the G20 Summit, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg, Germany.Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the G20 Summit, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg, Germany.

Putin’s speech came as the U.S. unveiled its own new nuclear arms policy, and after President Trump has spoken of massively rebuilding the country’s nuclear arsenal. The Trump administration’s new Nuclear Posture Review specifically identified Russian efforts to develop new types of weapons as a risk to be countered.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump, right, and Russias President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017. Jorge Silva/AP
President Donald Trump, right, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, Nov. 11, 2017.

A State Department spokesman said Putin’s speech confirmed Russia was violating its arms treaty obligations, in particular, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The U.S. and Russia have both previously accused each other of violating the INF.

Peskov said that Russia “categorically denies” any violation.

Putin put on the weapons show less than three weeks before a presidential election, and it appeared geared most towards stirring feelings at home around Russian martial strength before the vote. The first three-quarters of Putin’s speech took up a pre-election pitch, making a series of optimistic promises for Russia’s development before he abruptly launched into the weapons demonstration.

Most of the weapons, such as the Sarmat missile, have been known to be in development for years. But experts have expressed surprise around the nuclear-powered cruise missile, which Putin said was a modified X-101 missile.

The U.S. tried to develop its own nuclear-powered cruise missile in the 1960s but abandoned it.

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Thorny global issues abound a year into Trump presidency

Thorny global issues abound a year into Trump presidency

With a sharp departure from years and sometimes decades of U.S. foreign policy, President Donald Trump has made a seismic global impact during his first year in office.

It has been delivered with his own brand of bombast and occasional threats.

Contentious issues have always existed, especially in conflict-ridden or volatile countries, but has he improved or worsened matters? Twelve months into his presidency, Associated Press correspondents take stock:

FILE – In this Nov. 11, 2017 photo, U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam. Trump repeatedly declared in his presidential campaign that he would improve relations with Russia but was never specific. A year into his presidency, it’s no more clear. Moscow and Washington are at odds over issues ranging from North Korea to Ukraine, despite Trump’s open admiration of Putin. (Jorge Silva/Pool Photo via AP, File)

RUSSIA

Trump repeatedly declared in his campaign that he would improve relations with Russia but was never specific. A year into his presidency, it’s no clearer. Moscow and Washington are at odds over issues ranging from North Korea to Ukraine, despite Trump’s open admiration of President Vladimir Putin.

Russian officials had high hopes that Trump would move to abandon or reduce the sanctions that the United States imposed over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Instead, Trump approved selling lethal weapons to Ukraine for the fight against the rebels, he appointed a Russia hawk as Washington’s envoy for Ukraine’s peace process, and his U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, declared that the Crimea sanctions wouldn’t be lifted unless the peninsula is returned to Ukraine.

Trump even signed legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia – unwillingly, but effectively forced to by the measure’s near-unanimous Senate approval. Publicly, the Kremlin contends Trump is hogtied by suspicions of Russia held over from the Barack Obama era and by hysteria over allegations that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election and that Trump and Russia had colluded.

Trump himself has criticized Russia, saying Moscow “seeks to challenge American values, influence and wealth,” and complaining he is not satisfied with Russia’s role in easing tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Russia contends the U.S. wants to undermine the deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program and that Washington clandestinely supports Islamic fighters in Syria.

Although Trump has a taste for defying conventional political wisdom, his potential moves toward Russia appear constricted until the investigation into his campaign’s dealings with Russia concludes and leaves him untarnished. While the probe continues, the Kremlin is edging from quiet disappointment into needling suggestions of U.S. weakness.

“Will they show good will? Will they gather courage, exercise common sense?” Putin said.

ASIA

Asia was one of Trump’s punching bags during his election campaign. Chinese and Japanese exports were destroying U.S. jobs. South Korea and Japan weren’t paying enough for U.S. troops defending their countries.

Then came Kim Jong Un.

Two weeks before Trump took office, the leader of North Korea declared in a New Year’s address that preparations for an intercontinental ballistic missile were in “the final stage.” Trump tweeted in response: “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!”

Both sides traded threats and insults, and North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test and three ICBM launches that demonstrated at least a theoretical ability to reach the U.S.

Seeking China’s help on isolating North Korea through economic sanctions, Trump backed off a threat to label China a currency manipulator. He was off-and-on conciliatory on trade during an extended visit to Asia in November, and China said it would lift restrictions on foreign investment in its banks and other financial institutions.

As his second year in office dawns, however, Trump appears to be moving steadily toward raising tariffs or restricting imports to try to force China to take steps to narrow its trade surplus with the United States.

Kim began the year with his own conciliatory note: sending a delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea. But he also said in a Jan. 1 speech that North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests have achieved a powerful deterrent that “nothing can reverse.”

SYRIA, IRAQ AND THE ISLAMIC STATE

Trump can claim credit for the virtual defeat of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria on his watch. He largely continued Obama’s anti-IS strategy and intensified it. U.S. troop levels were increased in both countries, coalition commanders got more authority to call airstrikes and operations focused on killing more militants rather than allowing their escape, according to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The biggest victory was retaking the Iraqi city of Mosul, launched under Obama. Iraqi forces later retook nearly all the territory held by IS and the government declared victory over the group in December.

In Syria, Kurdish forces with stepped-up backing from U.S. forces retook the de facto IS capital of Raqqa. Since then, they and Syrian forces have been pushing IS out of most of its remaining territory.

In dealing with Syria’s civil war, Trump made it clear his fight was not against President Bashar Assad, who has presided over killings on a massive scale in order to retain power. Trump has largely continued Obama’s mostly hands-off policy, effectively allowing Russia to take the reins militarily and politically, along with Iran, both Assad allies.

Trump halted a covert CIA program to arm and train moderate rebels fighting Assad. The U.S. has not played any role in the political effort to end the war and is conspicuously absent from U.N.-led talks. Russia has taken the lead, brokering agreements with Turkey and Iran and spearheading a separate political track that has led to four de-escalation zones meant in theory to reduce violence.

In April, the U.S. struck a Syrian air base after a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians that the U.S. blamed on Assad. It marked the first deliberate U.S. military action against Assad’s forces, but it was not followed up by any other action and was largely seen as muscle flexing rather than part of a coherent policy.

The Trump administration has not spelled out post-IS policies for Iraq and Syria. It said it won’t finance a program to rebuild the destruction from the Iraq war. It also hasn’t made clear how it sees the future of those parts of eastern and northern Syria held by the Kurds.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced U.S. plans to form a 30,000-member Kurdish-led border security force in Syria, vowing to “drown this terror force before it is born.”

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS

Trump promised to pursue “the ultimate deal” – an agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A year later, he has made little headway and his hoped-for peace push appears to be in tatters.

In December, he upended decades of policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The move, seen as siding with Israel, set off weeks of unrest and prompted the Palestinians to declare Trump unfit to mediate peace.

Trump earlier distanced himself from the two-state solution favored by the global community, saying he would support it only if both sides agreed, effectively giving Israel veto power.

The U.S. has said little about Israeli settlement construction, stayed silent over a Likud Party vote in favor of annexing parts of the West Bank and blamed the Palestinians for the impasse in peace efforts.

This week, the Trump administration cut $65 million in money for Palestinian refugees, saying the U.N. agency responsible for the programs must undertake a “fundamental re-examination.”

While Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu is one of Trump’s biggest supporters, the Palestinians have virtually cut off ties and are trying to rally opposition to U.S. efforts.

Palestinian frustrations boiled over in a belligerent speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that ridiculed Trump and some of his closest advisers. Abbas pre-emptively rejected any peace plan Trump offers.

The U.S. peace team, led by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, has yet to offer a proposal.

SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAN

Trump and his tough talk on Iran were exactly what Saudi Arabia wanted to hear.

Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman’s assertive young son, traveled to the U.S. to meet with Trump’s administration and became close to Kushner. Mohammed bin Salman was later elevated to crown prince, putting him next in line to the throne.

Trump’s first foreign trip as president was to Riyadh for a summit of more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders. Saudi Arabia later joined three other Arab nations in boycotting Qatar, home to a U.S. military base. While American officials have tried to defuse the crisis, Trump offered comments seeming to back the boycotters.

Iran’s leaders have mocked and criticized Trump, whose refusal to re-certify the Iran nuclear deal has put the accord in question. Some analysts have suggested Trump’s refusals could doom the deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions allowing it to sell oil again on the world market.

Average Iranians also are angry at Trump for slights such as his travel bans. Yet he voiced support for protests in Iran at the end of the year, unlike Obama’s caution toward demonstrations in 2009 over its disputed presidential election.

LATIN AMERICA

Latin America also found Trump’s first year a time of uncertainty.

Trump had made clear in his campaign that relations with Mexico – the neighbor he characterized as a source of drugs and rapists and a thief of jobs – would change. Trump has continued in that vein, saying as recently as this month that Mexico would pay for the border wall – just a day after asking Congress for $18 billion to build it.

His hardball renegotiation of the North American Trade Agreement has kept the Mexican peso dancing for months as he and his team regularly threaten to walk away if Mexico and Canada don’t submit to significant changes. He ended the Obama-era program that allowed young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally to stay and work – a decision recently suspended by a federal judge. His aggressive pursuit of immigrants had several Latin American countries preparing for a flood of deportees that has yet to arrive.

The ride has not been smoother in Central America or the Caribbean. Trump ended the temporary protective status of residents who fled natural disasters in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti. A decision on Honduras, a key U.S. ally in the drug war, was delayed. Shortly after Honduras voted against a U.N. resolution condemning Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Trump administration congratulated Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on his disputed re-election victory.

But Haiti received the region’s final broadside in Trump’s first year. Last week, Trump questioned why the U.S. was admitting immigrants from the island battered by earthquakes and hurricanes, as well as others from unspecified “shithole” African nations, during an immigration meeting with lawmakers. He later said he didn’t say anything derogatory about the Caribbean country.

AFRICA

Trump’s approach to Africa has been one largely of neglect – and that insult.

Concerns emerged about the administration’s proposed cuts to foreign aid and the shift from humanitarian assistance in Africa to one of counterterror operations. The approach was seen in Somalia, where the first U.S. ambassador to the chaotic Horn of Africa nation in 25 years raised eyebrows by handing its new president a hat emblazoned with the words “Make Somalia Great Again.”

An increase in U.S. drone strikes followed as Trump expanded military operations against the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab. Some humanitarian workers were appalled, with the country on the brink of a famine.

But it was the deaths of U.S. military service members in Africa that turned Americans’ attention to the continent. For the first time since 1993, a U.S. military member died in combat in Somalia. And in October, the killing of four U.S. soldiers in the West African nation of Niger raised questions about why the U.S. military was there at all.

As key ambassador posts in South Africa, Egypt, Congo and elsewhere stayed vacant, Trump’s rare mentions of Africa signaled a lack of interest or outright ignorance. He referred to a country called “Nambia,” which doesn’t exist. He reportedly mocked Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest economies, by saying its people wouldn’t return to their “huts” once they saw the U.S.

And there was anger and astonishment over Trump’s vulgar reference to African countries. As calls for apologies or boycotts followed, the relatively placid southern African nation of Botswana summoned the U.S. ambassador to clarify whether it, too, was held in such regard.

Many Africans expressed concern that Trump might drag America’s reputation down with him.

___

Associated Press writers Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo, Joe McDonald in Beijing, Zeina Karam in Beirut, Susannah George in Baghdad, Joe Federman in Jerusalem, Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Christopher Sherman in Mexico City, Jim Heintz in Moscow, and Cara Anna in Johannesburg.

FILE- In this Nov. 21, 2017, file photo, people watch a TV screen showing images of U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. With a sharp departure from years and sometimes decades of U.S. foreign policy, President Donald Trump has made a seismic global impact during his first year in office. Both North Korea and the U.S. traded threats and insults, and North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test and three ICBM launches that demonstrated at least a theoretical ability to reach the U.S. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

FILE – In this Sept. 16, 2017 file photo, people watch the launch of a Hwasong-12 strategic ballistic rocket aired on a public TV screen at the Pyongyang Train Station in Pyongyang, North Korea. Two weeks before U.S. President Donald Trump took office, the leader of North Korea declared in a New Year’s address that preparations for an intercontinental ballistic missile were in “the final stage.” Trump tweeted in response: “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!” (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 9, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Seeking China’s help on isolating North Korea through economic sanctions, Trump backed off a threat to label China a currency manipulator. He was off-and-on conciliatory on trade during an extended visit to Asia in November, and China announced it would lift restrictions on foreign investment in its banks and other financial institutions. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

FILE – In this July 11, 2017 file photo, airstrikes target Islamic State positions on the edge of the Old City a day after Iraq’s prime minister declared “total victory” in Mosul, Iraq. U.S. President Donald Trump can claim credit for the virtual defeat of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria under his watch. He largely continued Obama’s anti-IS strategy and intensified it. The biggest victory was retaking the Iraqi city of Mosul, launched under Obama. Iraqi forces later retook nearly all the territory held by IS and the government declared victory over the group in December. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

FILE – This photo provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service shows an Islamic State group target in Syria hit by a Russian air strike on Jan. 24, 2017. In dealing with Syria’s broader civil war, U.S. President Donald Trump made it clear his fight was not against President Bashar Assad, who has presided over killings on a massive scale in order to retain power. Trump has largely continued Obama’s largely hands-off policy, effectively allowing Russia to take the reins militarily and politically along with Iran, both Assad allies. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service Photo via AP, File)

FILE – This frame grab from video released Oct. 17, 2017 and provided by Hawar News Agency, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows fighters from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) celebrating their victory in Raqqa, Syria. U.S. President Donald Trump can claim credit for the virtual defeat of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria on his watch. He largely continued Obama’s anti-IS strategy and intensified it. In Syria, Kurdish forces with stepped-up backing from U.S. forces retook the de facto IS capital of Raqqa. Since then, they and Syrian forces have been pushing IS out of most of its remaining territory. (Hawar News Agency via AP, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 1, 2017 file photo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, in Washington. Trump took office promising to pursue “the ultimate deal” – a peace agreement to end decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After a year on the job, Trump’s peace team, led by son-in-law Kushner, has yet to offer a proposal. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

FILE – In this Dec. 14, 2017 file photo, Palestinian protesters burn a poster with a picture of U.S. President Donald Trump during clashes with Israeli troops following protests against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Trump promised to pursue “the ultimate deal” – an agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A year later, he has made little headway and his hoped-for peace push appears to be in tatters. In December, he upended decades of policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The move, seen as siding with Israel, set off weeks of unrest and prompted the Palestinians to declare Trump unfit to mediate peace. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser, File)

FILE- In this May 20, 2017 file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump holds a sword and dances with traditional dancers during a welcome ceremony at Murabba Palace, in Riyadh. Trump’s first foreign trip as president was to Riyadh for a summit of more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders. Saudi Arabia later joined three other Arab nations in boycotting Qatar, home to a U.S. military base. While American officials have tried to defuse the crisis, Trump offered comments seeming to back the boycotters. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

FILE – In this March 14, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Trump and his tough talk on Iran were exactly what Saudi Arabia wanted to hear. Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman’s assertive young son, traveled to the U.S. to meet with Trump’s administration and became close to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

FILE – In this Dec. 30, 2017 file photo, Iranian protesters chant slogans at a rally in Tehran, Iran. The Trump administration called on Iran’s government to stop blocking Instagram and other popular social media sites as Iranians demonstrated in the streets. Average Iranians are angry at U.S. President Donald Trump for slights such as his travel bans. Yet he voiced support for protests in Iran at the end of the year, unlike Obama’s caution toward demonstrations in 2009 over its disputed presidential election. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

FILE – In this Sept. 8, 2017, file photo a Border Patrol vehicle drives in front of a mural in Tecate, Mexico, just beyond a border structure in Tecate, Calif. Like much of the world, Latin America found the first year of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration a time of uncertainty. Trump had made clear in his campaign that relations with Mexico – the neighbor he characterized as a source of drugs and rapists and a thief of jobs – would change. He has continued in that vein, saying as recently as this month that Mexico would pay for the border wall – just a day after asking Congress for $18 billion to build it. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

FILE – Int this Feb. 25, 2017 file photo, protesters take part in a No Ban, No Wall rally to support the rights of immigrants and oppose a border wall with Mexico on the steps of the Texas Capitol, in Austin, Texas. With a sharp departure from years and sometimes decades of U.S. foreign policy, President Donald Trump has made a seismic global impact during his first year in office. Trump’s policies, which included a controversial travel ban blocking entry to the U.S. to citizens from six majority-Muslim countries, as well as ending the Obama-era program that allowed young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally to stay and work, were keenly felt. His first year in office continued in that vein with Trump saying recently that Mexico would pay for the border wall – just a day after he asked Congress for $18 billion to build it. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 5, 2017 file photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, a U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Lyons, Ga., upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Wright was one of four U.S. troops and four Niger forces killed in an ambush by dozens of Islamic extremists on a joint patrol of American and Niger Force. U.S. President Donald Trump’s approach to Africa in his first year in office has been one largely of neglect – and then suddenly one of shocking insult. The killings of the four U.S. soldiers in the West African nation of Niger set off outrage, along with questions about why the U.S. military was there at all. (Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Jenne/U.S. Air Force via AP, File)

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In Russia, Trump inauguration euphoria leaves lasting hangover

In Russia, Trump inauguration euphoria leaves lasting hangover

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A year ago on Saturday, Russian nationalists partied in central Moscow to celebrate Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.

Euphoria has given way to dismay as the man they expected to end U.S. sanctions against Russia reluctantly reinforced the penalties and allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election, denied by Moscow, eroded political ties.

Some Russians even say it might have been better if Hillary Clinton, long portrayed here as rabidly anti-Russian, had won the presidency.

“Under a Clinton administration … we could have maintained some kind of contacts and dialogue, at least in the arms control sphere. Now, that’s all gone,” said Valery Garbuzov, director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies in Moscow, which advises the government on foreign policy.

Before he was elected, Trump’s talk of wanting better relations with Moscow and praise for President Vladimir Putin delighted Russian officials, who had watched ties with the administration of Barack Obama sink to a post-Cold War low.

News of Trump’s White House win was greeted by applause in the Russian lower house of parliament and the head of the Kremlin-backed RT TV channel, Margarita Simonyan, said she felt like driving around Moscow with a U.S. flag.

Simonyan now spends much of her time assailing the U.S. authorities, accusing them of shutting down free speech there by designating her channel as “a foreign agent.”

Tsargrad, the nationalist TV channel that broadcast the main Russian Trump inauguration party at Moscow’s Soviet-era post office, accused Trump this week of criticizing Russia over North Korea to distract from his own problems at home.

With the U.S. Congress continuing investigations into alleged collusion between Trump and Russia and the administration working on lawmakers’ demand for more punitive measures, the Kremlin’s frustration is palpable.

While Putin met Trump twice last year, officials here say they are unaware of any plans for a bilateral summit and Moscow tried and failed to set up a formal meeting between Putin and Trump at an APEC summit in November.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov listed U.S.-Russia relations as among the biggest disappointments of 2017.

The U.S. Treasury Department is due to publish a report before the end of this month naming wealthy Russians close to Putin or the authorities, something Russian officials fear is a prelude to extending a list of sanctioned people and entities.

Russian officials say they expect at least another six U.S. government reports this year that may result in new U.S. action against Russia’s energy and financial sectors as well as media, and a possible ban on the purchase of Russian Treasury bonds.

“(U.S.) sanctions policy is designed to turn Russia into a toxic asset so that any investor will think 10 times before deciding to enter the Russian market,” said Ivan Timofeev, a sanctions expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), a think-tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

FILE PHOTO: Head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky celebrates Donald Trump’s election as president by drinking sparkling wine with other party members during a break in the session of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, in Moscow, Russia November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo

Russia’s scope to defend itself from new sanctions was “extremely limited,” he said.

‘TOUGHER THAN OBAMA’

Putin has put a brave face on worsening U.S.-Russia relations, using his annual news conference in December to say he thought ties would eventually recover, while praising Trump for his economic achievements.

But though Russian officials say they believe Trump’s stated desire to improve ties with Moscow is sincere, they portray him as a lame duck president when it comes to making Russia policy, neutered by his domestic political opponents.

The result, they complain, is that U.S.-Russia ties are actually worse in some ways than under Obama and that high-level contacts are virtually non-existent.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

“Unfortunately the actions of the current administration are in line with Obama‘s, despite the line of president Trump during his election campaign. In certain areas, they are even more assertive,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his annual news conference this month.

Both Trump and Putin may say they want better ties, officials say, but day-to-day relations between the two countries are locked in a downward spiral with no Cold War-style communications channels to help tamp down tensions.

Russian efforts to persuade Trump to hand it back two diplomatic properties in the United States seized under the Obama administration have come to nothing, prompting Moscow to respond by seizing U.S. property in Russia. Putin last year ordered the U.S. Embassy in Russia to shed half its staff.

The Trump administration has also upped pressure on Russia over Ukraine, going further than Obama by authorizing the supply of new weapons to Kiev, which is locked in a war with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

It has also described Russia as a revisionist state seeking to challenge U.S. power.

Andrey Kortunov, head of RIAC, said Moscow had been blinded by its desire for “anyone but Clinton”, a view that the Republicans were easier to work with than the Democrats, and a belief that Trump’s world view overlapped with Russia‘s.

“We warned them,” he said.

Garbuzov, whose institute also advises the government, said the elite wrongly assumed the U.S. political system was like Russia’s where the president has few checks on his authority, and can now only try to limit the damage by cooperating where possible.

“Trump can’t do anything (to improve Russia ties),” said Garbuzov.

“He’s made vague statements saying it would be good to fix relations, but how to achieve this is an enigma for him.”

Editing by Philippa Fletcher

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In Russia, Trump inauguration euphoria leaves lasting hangover

In Russia, Trump inauguration euphoria leaves lasting hangover

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A year ago on Saturday, Russian nationalists partied in central Moscow to celebrate Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.

Euphoria has given way to dismay as the man they expected to end U.S. sanctions against Russia reluctantly reinforced the penalties and allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election, denied by Moscow, eroded political ties.

Some Russians even say it might have been better if Hillary Clinton, long portrayed here as rabidly anti-Russian, had won the presidency.

“Under a Clinton administration … we could have maintained some kind of contacts and dialogue, at least in the arms control sphere. Now, that’s all gone,” said Valery Garbuzov, director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies in Moscow, which advises the government on foreign policy.

Before he was elected, Trump’s talk of wanting better relations with Moscow and praise for President Vladimir Putin delighted Russian officials, who had watched ties with the administration of Barack Obama sink to a post-Cold War low.

News of Trump’s White House win was greeted by applause in the Russian lower house of parliament and the head of the Kremlin-backed RT TV channel, Margarita Simonyan, said she felt like driving around Moscow with a U.S. flag.

Simonyan now spends much of her time assailing the U.S. authorities, accusing them of shutting down free speech there by designating her channel as “a foreign agent.”

Tsargrad, the nationalist TV channel that broadcast the main Russian Trump inauguration party at Moscow’s Soviet-era post office, accused Trump this week of criticizing Russia over North Korea to distract from his own problems at home.

With the U.S. Congress continuing investigations into alleged collusion between Trump and Russia and the administration working on lawmakers’ demand for more punitive measures, the Kremlin’s frustration is palpable.

While Putin met Trump twice last year, officials here say they are unaware of any plans for a bilateral summit and Moscow tried and failed to set up a formal meeting between Putin and Trump at an APEC summit in November.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov listed U.S.-Russia relations as among the biggest disappointments of 2017.

The U.S. Treasury Department is due to publish a report before the end of this month naming wealthy Russians close to Putin or the authorities, something Russian officials fear is a prelude to extending a list of sanctioned people and entities.

Russian officials say they expect at least another six U.S. government reports this year that may result in new U.S. action against Russia’s energy and financial sectors as well as media, and a possible ban on the purchase of Russian Treasury bonds.

“(U.S.) sanctions policy is designed to turn Russia into a toxic asset so that any investor will think 10 times before deciding to enter the Russian market,” said Ivan Timofeev, a sanctions expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), a think-tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

FILE PHOTO: Head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky celebrates Donald Trump’s election as president by drinking sparkling wine with other party members during a break in the session of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, in Moscow, Russia November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo

Russia’s scope to defend itself from new sanctions was “extremely limited,” he said.

‘TOUGHER THAN OBAMA’

Putin has put a brave face on worsening U.S.-Russia relations, using his annual news conference in December to say he thought ties would eventually recover, while praising Trump for his economic achievements.

But though Russian officials say they believe Trump’s stated desire to improve ties with Moscow is sincere, they portray him as a lame duck president when it comes to making Russia policy, neutered by his domestic political opponents.

The result, they complain, is that U.S.-Russia ties are actually worse in some ways than under Obama and that high-level contacts are virtually non-existent.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

“Unfortunately the actions of the current administration are in line with Obama‘s, despite the line of president Trump during his election campaign. In certain areas, they are even more assertive,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his annual news conference this month.

Both Trump and Putin may say they want better ties, officials say, but day-to-day relations between the two countries are locked in a downward spiral with no Cold War-style communications channels to help tamp down tensions.

Russian efforts to persuade Trump to hand it back two diplomatic properties in the United States seized under the Obama administration have come to nothing, prompting Moscow to respond by seizing U.S. property in Russia. Putin last year ordered the U.S. Embassy in Russia to shed half its staff.

The Trump administration has also upped pressure on Russia over Ukraine, going further than Obama by authorizing the supply of new weapons to Kiev, which is locked in a war with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

It has also described Russia as a revisionist state seeking to challenge U.S. power.

Andrey Kortunov, head of RIAC, said Moscow had been blinded by its desire for “anyone but Clinton”, a view that the Republicans were easier to work with than the Democrats, and a belief that Trump’s world view overlapped with Russia‘s.

“We warned them,” he said.

Garbuzov, whose institute also advises the government, said the elite wrongly assumed the U.S. political system was like Russia’s where the president has few checks on his authority, and can now only try to limit the damage by cooperating where possible.

“Trump can’t do anything (to improve Russia ties),” said Garbuzov.

“He’s made vague statements saying it would be good to fix relations, but how to achieve this is an enigma for him.”

Editing by Philippa Fletcher

Click to Read more news from the respected source

Russians Want Clinton Not Trump as President, as Disappointmeent Sweeps Moscow a Year After Inauguration …

Russians Want Clinton Not Trump as President, as Disappointmeent Sweeps Moscow a Year After Inauguration …

A year ago on Saturday, Russian nationalists partied in central Moscow to celebrate Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States. 

Euphoria has given way to dismay as the man they expected to end U.S. sanctions against Russia reluctantly reinforced the penalties and allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election, denied by Moscow, eroded political ties. 

11_08_Trump_Putin_North_Korea_Russia

Trump’s relationship with Putin remains a point of controversy in the U.S. Getty Images

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Some Russians even say it might have been better if Hillary Clinton, long portrayed here as rabidly anti-Russian, had won the presidency. 

“Under a Clinton administration … we could have maintained some kind of contacts and dialogue, at least in the arms control sphere. Now, that’s all gone,” said Valery Garbuzov, director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies in Moscow, which advises the government on foreign policy. 

Before he was elected, Trump’s talk of wanting better relations with Moscow and praise for President Vladimir Putin delighted Russian officials, who had watched ties with the administration of Barack Obama sink to a post-Cold War low. 

News of Trump’s White House win was greeted by applause in the Russian lower house of parliament and the head of the Kremlin-backed RT TV channel, Margarita Simonyan, said she felt like driving around Moscow with a U.S. flag. 

Simonyan now spends much of her time assailing the U.S. authorities, accusing them of shutting down free speech there by designating her channel as “a foreign agent.” 

Tsargrad, the nationalist TV channel that broadcast the main Russian Trump inauguration party at Moscow’s Soviet-era post office, accused Trump this week of criticizing Russia over North Korea to distract from his own problems at home. 

With the U.S. Congress continuing investigations into alleged collusion between Trump and Russia and the administration working on lawmakers’ demand for more punitive measures, the Kremlin’s frustration is palpable. 

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While Putin met Trump twice last year, officials here say they are unaware of any plans for a bilateral summit and Moscow tried and failed to set up a formal meeting between Putin and Trump at an APEC summit in November. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov listed U.S.-Russia relations as among the biggest disappointments of 2017. 

The U.S. Treasury Department is due to publish a report before the end of this month naming wealthy Russians close to Putin or the authorities, something Russian officials fear is a prelude to extending a list of sanctioned people and entities. 

Russian officials say they expect at least another six U.S. government reports this year that may result in new U.S. action against Russia’s energy and financial sectors as well as media, and a possible ban on the purchase of Russian Treasury bonds. 

“(U.S.) sanctions policy is designed to turn Russia into a toxic asset so that any investor will think 10 times before deciding to enter the Russian market,” said Ivan Timofeev, a sanctions expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), a think-tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry. 

Russia’s scope to defend itself from new sanctions was “extremely limited,” he said. 

Putin has put a brave face on worsening U.S.-Russia relations, using his annual news conference in December to say he thought ties would eventually recover, while praising Trump for his economic achievements. 

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But though Russian officials say they believe Trump’s stated desire to improve ties with Moscow is sincere, they portray him as a lame duck president when it comes to making Russia policy, neutered by his domestic political opponents. 

The result, they complain, is that U.S.-Russia ties are actually worse in some ways than under Obama and that high-level contacts are virtually non-existent. 

“Unfortunately the actions of the current administration are in line with Obama‘s, despite the line of president Trump during his election campaign. In certain areas, they are even more assertive,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his annual news conference this month. 

Both Trump and Putin may say they want better ties, officials say, but day-to-day relations between the two countries are locked in a downward spiral with no Cold War-style communications channels to help tamp down tensions. 

Russian efforts to persuade Trump to hand it back two diplomatic properties in the United States seized under the Obama administration have come to nothing, prompting Moscow to respond by seizing U.S. property in Russia. Putin last year ordered the U.S. Embassy in Russia to shed half its staff. 

The Trump administration has also upped pressure on Russia over Ukraine, going further than Obama by authorizing the supply of new weapons to Kiev, which is locked in a war with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. 

It has also described Russia as a revisionist state seeking to challenge U.S. power. 

Andrey Kortunov, head of RIAC, said Moscow had been blinded by its desire for “anyone but Clinton”, a view that the Republicans were easier to work with than the Democrats, and a belief that Trump’s world view overlapped with Russia‘s. 

“We warned them,” he said. 

Garbuzov, whose institute also advises the government, said the elite wrongly assumed the U.S. political system was like Russia’s where the president has few checks on his authority, and can now only try to limit the damage by cooperating where possible. 

“Trump can’t do anything (to improve Russia ties),” said Garbuzov. 

“He’s made vague statements saying it would be good to fix relations, but how to achieve this is an enigma for him.”

This article was first written by Newsweek

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In Russia, Trump inauguration euphoria leaves lasting hangover

In Russia, Trump inauguration euphoria leaves lasting hangover

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A year ago on Saturday, Russian nationalists partied in central Moscow to celebrate Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.

Euphoria has given way to dismay as the man they expected to end U.S. sanctions against Russia reluctantly reinforced the penalties and allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election, denied by Moscow, eroded political ties.

Some Russians even say it might have been better if Hillary Clinton, long portrayed here as rabidly anti-Russian, had won the presidency.

“Under a Clinton administration … we could have maintained some kind of contacts and dialogue, at least in the arms control sphere. Now, that’s all gone,” said Valery Garbuzov, director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies in Moscow, which advises the government on foreign policy.

Before he was elected, Trump’s talk of wanting better relations with Moscow and praise for President Vladimir Putin delighted Russian officials, who had watched ties with the administration of Barack Obama sink to a post-Cold War low.

News of Trump’s White House win was greeted by applause in the Russian lower house of parliament and the head of the Kremlin-backed RT TV channel, Margarita Simonyan, said she felt like driving around Moscow with a U.S. flag.

Simonyan now spends much of her time assailing the U.S. authorities, accusing them of shutting down free speech there by designating her channel as “a foreign agent.”

Tsargrad, the nationalist TV channel that broadcast the main Russian Trump inauguration party at Moscow’s Soviet-era post office, accused Trump this week of criticizing Russia over North Korea to distract from his own problems at home.

With the U.S. Congress continuing investigations into alleged collusion between Trump and Russia and the administration working on lawmakers’ demand for more punitive measures, the Kremlin’s frustration is palpable.

While Putin met Trump twice last year, officials here say they are unaware of any plans for a bilateral summit and Moscow tried and failed to set up a formal meeting between Putin and Trump at an APEC summit in November.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov listed U.S.-Russia relations as among the biggest disappointments of 2017.

The U.S. Treasury Department is due to publish a report before the end of this month naming wealthy Russians close to Putin or the authorities, something Russian officials fear is a prelude to extending a list of sanctioned people and entities.

Russian officials say they expect at least another six U.S. government reports this year that may result in new U.S. action against Russia’s energy and financial sectors as well as media, and a possible ban on the purchase of Russian Treasury bonds.

“(U.S.) sanctions policy is designed to turn Russia into a toxic asset so that any investor will think 10 times before deciding to enter the Russian market,” said Ivan Timofeev, a sanctions expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), a think-tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

FILE PHOTO: Head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky celebrates Donald Trump’s election as president by drinking sparkling wine with other party members during a break in the session of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, in Moscow, Russia November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo

Russia’s scope to defend itself from new sanctions was “extremely limited,” he said.

‘TOUGHER THAN OBAMA’

Putin has put a brave face on worsening U.S.-Russia relations, using his annual news conference in December to say he thought ties would eventually recover, while praising Trump for his economic achievements.

But though Russian officials say they believe Trump’s stated desire to improve ties with Moscow is sincere, they portray him as a lame duck president when it comes to making Russia policy, neutered by his domestic political opponents.

The result, they complain, is that U.S.-Russia ties are actually worse in some ways than under Obama and that high-level contacts are virtually non-existent.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

“Unfortunately the actions of the current administration are in line with Obama‘s, despite the line of president Trump during his election campaign. In certain areas, they are even more assertive,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his annual news conference this month.

Both Trump and Putin may say they want better ties, officials say, but day-to-day relations between the two countries are locked in a downward spiral with no Cold War-style communications channels to help tamp down tensions.

Russian efforts to persuade Trump to hand it back two diplomatic properties in the United States seized under the Obama administration have come to nothing, prompting Moscow to respond by seizing U.S. property in Russia. Putin last year ordered the U.S. Embassy in Russia to shed half its staff.

The Trump administration has also upped pressure on Russia over Ukraine, going further than Obama by authorizing the supply of new weapons to Kiev, which is locked in a war with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

It has also described Russia as a revisionist state seeking to challenge U.S. power.

Andrey Kortunov, head of RIAC, said Moscow had been blinded by its desire for “anyone but Clinton”, a view that the Republicans were easier to work with than the Democrats, and a belief that Trump’s world view overlapped with Russia‘s.

“We warned them,” he said.

Garbuzov, whose institute also advises the government, said the elite wrongly assumed the U.S. political system was like Russia’s where the president has few checks on his authority, and can now only try to limit the damage by cooperating where possible.

“Trump can’t do anything (to improve Russia ties),” said Garbuzov.

“He’s made vague statements saying it would be good to fix relations, but how to achieve this is an enigma for him.”

Editing by Philippa Fletcher

Click to Read more news from the respected source