Combination of file photos show Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 29, 2016 and U.S. President DonaldTrump at a press conference at the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on Feb. 15, 2017. (Xinhua)
MOSCOW, June 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S.-Russian tensions flared up this week as Washington attempted to please domestic anti-Russian forces, but confrontation between the former Cold War rivals will not cross the red line, analysts said.
On Sunday, the U.S.-led coalition shot down a Syrian Su-22 bomber and the Russian Defense Ministry suspended a military hotline for airspace communication with the U.S. side.
On Monday, Russia scrambled Su-27 fighters to consecutively intercept two U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance planes over the Baltic Sea, and Russia accused one of the U.S. planes of provoking its fighter during the intercept.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed additional sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, blacklisting 38 individuals and entities, while Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov canceled his consultation on mending bilateral ties with U.S. Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon.
"Currently, Russian-U.S relations are at an extremely low point," said Vladimir Sotnikov, a senior research fellow with the Moscow-based Institute of World Economy and International Relations.
Russia and the United States were creeping into a new cold war, he warned.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION UNDER PRESSURE
It was first of all the domestic political situation in the United States that prompted the administration of President Donald Trump to behave tough, according to Sotnikov.
"Trump is under the strongest pressure from his political opponents. He needs to shift domestic attention to external problems and present himself as an effective leader capable of making tough decisions," he said.
Since taking office, Trump has been living under the cloud of repeated accusations by his opponents that he may have secret connections with Russia.
Trump fired U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey last month because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the 2016 presidential elections.
But Comey believed that he was sacked due to his investigation into possible Russian links with the Trump campaign.
On Friday, Trump tweeted "I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt."
The recent escalation of tensions with Moscow was aimed at showing that Washington is acting from a position of strength, said Sotnikov.
About 6,000 soldiers from 15 countries with up to 1,200 ground military vehicles and 80 aircraft will be deployed in Bulgaria to participate in the U.S.-led "Saber Guardian 2017" drills from June 23 to July 28.
At the same time, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is increasing its military presence in the three Baltic countries and Poland by stationing troops and improving military facilities.
"The current situation at the western borders of Russia has a tendency to deteriorate," said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
In response, he said the ministry is preparing for the "West 2017" exercises involving Russian and Belarusian servicemen.
"The heightened tensions, however, will not lead to the emergence of dangerous incidents, which can cause unpredictable consequences. No one is interested in such a development, neither Europe, the United States, nor Russia," said Sotnikov.
The Kremlin said Putin and Trump may meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany next month, but there is no concrete agreement yet.
The long-anticipated meeting is likely to be pleasant and the beginning of personal relations between the two leaders, said Alexei Mukhin, director general of Russian think tank Political Information Center.
But Mukhin did not expect any radical changes in Russian-U.S. relations from the meeting.
Sotnikov said that the meeting will possibly be a brief and protocol one, and prospects of easing tensions may be discussed, as well as steps toward the normalization of bilateral ties.
"But this does not mean that such steps will be taken in reality as the relations between the two countries are too complex and intricate today," said Sotnikov.