Russia Cautions Against ‘Excessive Optimism’ on U.S. Relations

  • ‘Problems will continue’ under Trump, spokesman Peskov says
  • New president arriving as relations at lowest point in decades

Putin Seeks to Restore Russian Relations With the U.S.

Russia is realistic about limits on the prospects for an immediate improvement in relations with the U.S. after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, according to President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman.

“There is no reason for, let’s say, excessive optimism,” Dmitry Peskov said Thursday in an interview in New York. “Problems will continue, disagreements will continue. We want the new president of the United States to be supportive of the inevitability of dialog between two countries.”

Relations “are at the lowest point in decades,” Peskov said. Putin and President Barack Obama clashed over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, its bombing campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the finding by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government was behind the hacking of Democrats during Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign against Trump.

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During the campaign, Trump praised Putin as “far more” of a leader than Obama. He also said he’d welcome better ties with Russia, would be willing to cooperate with Putin to defeat Islamic State in Syria, and may even consider recognizing the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax Thursday that the Russian embassy in the U.S. held talks with Trump’s camp “on a sufficient, responsible level.” Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, said in an e-mail that she was “not aware” of any meetings by campaign representatives with Russian diplomats.

Peskov said Russian “experts” had contacts with both Trump and Clinton’s aides, which was “quite normal.”

“It wasn’t an official approach or orchestrated from Kremlin,” Peskov said. “Exchange of views, comparison of positions, discussing possible ways of dialog.”