Russia urges U.S. to abandon sanctions diktat to normalize relations

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-31 23:24:29|Editor: yan
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MOSCOW, July 31 (Xinhua) -- It is important for Washington to show political will and discard attempts of sanctions diktat for the sake of improving relations between Russia and the United States, the Kremlin said Monday.

"The way out of this situation is through displaying political will to normalize relations, recovering from an aggravation of political schizophrenia, manifesting the desire to normalize these relations, and abandoning attempts of sanction diktat," Sputnik quoted Russian Presidential Secretary Dmitry Peskov as saying.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill by a vote of 98-2, slapping tougher sanctions on Russia for its alleged intervention in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied in public.

The bill put U.S. President Donald Trump in a dilemma, but he has indicated he will sign the sanctions bill into law, which represents a sharp downturn in U.S.-Russia relations after signs that Trump wanted to develop a new partnership with Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday hit back at the sanctions by demanding the United States cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755 people, regarded as Moscow's most aggressive move against Washington since the final years of the Cold War.

Peskov said Washington will be left to decide on the name list of employees of its diplomatic missions in Russia to dismiss, which could be both U.S. and Russian nationals.

"This is up to the United States... This is both diplomats and people without the diplomatic status and those who were employed on site -- Russian nationals who work there," he said.

The Kremlin spokesman added that Russia reserves the right to take additional countermeasures against the United States, although it still hopes to continue cooperation with the latter in certain areas.

"On the whole, Russia is interested in continuing cooperation (with the U.S.) where this is in our interests... The president considers it appropriate to continue cooperation in these areas," he said.

According to Putin, crucial areas of cooperation for the two countries include the joint actions against terrorism, and obligations in nuclear arms control and space projects.

"We waited a long time for things to perhaps change for the better," state media quoted Putin as saying, "We had such hopes that the situation would change, but judging by the situation that will not be soon."

Indeed, there are many sources of tension between the two nations, such as Russia's alleged meddling issue, the Syrian war, the role of Iran, and tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The diplomatic tit-for-tat between the two nations started under former U.S. President Barack Obama, who ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian recreational retreats in the U.S. in response to reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

It was revealed that Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of President Trump, met a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign after being promised "damaging" information about Hilary Clinton, the then Democratic presidential candidate running against his father.

To be what he called "totally transparent," Trump Jr. later made public a chain of emails with an intermediary about the meeting that took place on June 9, 2016 at Trump Tower in New York, but was accused of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act by conspiring to solicit a contribution from a foreign national during the campaign.

Moreover, during the Group of 20 (G20) major economies summit held on July 7-8 in Hamburg, Germany, the White House confirmed that Trump had a second, previously undisclosed conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which Trump said was of a length of 15 minutes.

However, multiple U.S. media, including the New York Times and the CNN, cited a senior White House official as saying that the conversation lasted nearly an hour, making the Russia scandal appear to be far from being over.

The ongoing scandal has brought down support for Trump, even from his own party.

The last week has seen the implosion of the president's plan to repeal and replace the current U.S. healthcare system -- known as Obamacare, former President Barack Obama's signature legislation -- when Senators from his own party refused to support the bill.

The failure marks a big blow for Trump six months after he took office. Trump has yet to pass any meaningful legislation on a host of issues to deliver his promises made during the election campaign.

Darrel West, with the well-known Washington-based U.S. think tank Brookings Institution, said Republicans will distance themselves from Trump "in order to avoid fallout in the 2018 elections" for Congress.