Trump White House Is a 'Disappointment,' Russia Says

Despite President Donald Trump’s evident admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s government says its deteriorating relationship with the U.S. is one of the biggest disappointments of 2017.

When asked on Friday about the Kremlin’s biggest letdowns of the year, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said worsening ties with the U.S. was “certainly” on the list, ABC News reported.

“Washington’s position towards our country cannot fail to give rise to disappointment,” Peskov noted.

It’s been a fraught year for U.S.-Russia relations amid accusations that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Peskov’s comments came just one day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Russia a “resurgent” country, and just a week after Peskov slammed the new Trump administration national security strategy, calling it "imperialist" and saying the U.S. is unwilling to accept a multipolar world.

872809474 Russia's President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump pose for a photo session of world leaders on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit. Getty Images

The 2017 national security strategy points specifically to Russia as a reemerging threat to U.S. interests, and highlights the fact that Moscow is using information tools to undermine the legitimacy of democracies around the world.

“Russia is using subversive measures to weaken the credibility of America’s commitment to Europe, undermine transatlantic unity, and weaken European institutions and governments,” the national security strategy reads. “With its invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, Russia demonstrated its willingness to violate the sovereignty of states in the region.”

But the diplomatic relationship between Washington and Moscow was already unraveling steadily.

This summer, Russia ordered Washington to reduce its Russian embassy and consular staff by more than half, and the U.S. was forced to pull around 455 diplomatic employees from Russia. The U.S. retaliated by dramatically cutting the number of U.S. visas it gave Russian citizens looking to travel to the U.S.

Then, in September, the State Department ordered that three Russian diplomatic facilities close.

What’s more, the U.S. has multiple sanctions in place against Russian businessmen and people of influence. The U.S. and the European Union have joint sanctions against Russia for the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, a direct response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and its continued interference in separatist territories in eastern Ukraine.

More restrictions were added in response to Russia’s role in meddling in the 2016 presidential election. These were in addition to the sanctions known as the Magnitsky Act, which were implemented in 2012 in response to human rights abuses suffered by a Russian lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky who was investigating tax fraud by Kremlin-linked individuals and businesses.

Russia has consistently lobbied to have all those sanctions removed, and many have speculated that they are hurting Putin personally by constraining his ability to move funds outside Russia.  

872800826 President Donald Trump (left) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin (right) talk after a meeting at the 25th APEC Summit, in November. Getty Images

But even as formal diplomatic ties deteriorate, Trump and Putin appear to be maintaining a friendly relationship. Trump has refused to admit that Russia meddled in the 2016 election despite the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies. He also has consistently failed to criticize Russia or its leader in public speeches, including during his speech introducing the national security strategy. Putin used his recent annual press conference to highlight how quickly the U.S. economy is growing under Trump.

The two leaders have also exchanged multiple phone calls over the past several months, some of which lasted hours.

Earlier this month, Putin called Trump to thank him for a tip from the CIA that allegedly stopped a terror attack being planned in St. Petersburg. 

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