Spotlight: Personal rapport fails to dispel Russia-U.S. chill

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-08 10:29:11|Editor: Liangyu
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by Xinhua writer Fei Liena

BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- It has been a testing time for Russia, widely regarded as the world's toughest nation and nicknamed the "Polar Bear."

After being publicly humiliated by Uncle Sam last December with expulsion of 35 of its diplomats in the U.S., Russia chose to suck it up. Yet who would have thought, the more one gets, the more one wants.

A few days ago, the American parliament overwhelmingly approved a sanctions bill on Russia for its alleged intervention in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

This time it's more than the Polar Bear could bear. It finally showed its teeth by demanding the United States cut 60 percent of its diplomatic staff in Russia, totalling 755 people, by Sept. 1.

It is a typical Putin style tit-for-tat revenge -- an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. "We will not leave anything unanswered," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Though a strongman, Putin was not always that strong. After years of waiting, he once found the apple of his eye -- Donald Trump.

During the American election last year, Putin openly called Trump a "colorful" and "talented" person. To return the favor, Trump, complimented Putin as "a leader, far more than our president has been," referring to then-U.S. President Barack Obama.

The two presidents met face-to-face for more than two hours at the Hamburg G20 summit in July -- well beyond the scheduled 35 minutes. The prolonged conversation even wore First Lady Melania Trump out that she had to barge in the meeting, trying to put an end to it.

She obviously failed as her husband and Putin talked for another hour.

But the Trump-Putin bromance wasn't fated to last. Soon enough, the U.S. Congress, like a meddling mother-in-law, decided to impose new economic sanctions on Moscow, and forced Trump to sign the bill.

For Russia, all the waiting for the United States to turn for the better has ended up with nothing.

Out of rage, Russia fought back. "Trump's administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way," Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Facebook.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Washington was "sliding ever deeper into the primitive ideology of the Cold War era."

People say Russia's expulsion of American diplomats marks the harshest diplomatic move since the Cold War, but I think Putin has made some reservation out of hope for a warmer relationship in the future.

Not only Russia leaved the American side to choose which diplomats to withdraw, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also announced on Sunday that Russia is prepared to "normalize the dialogue" with the United States.

Despite the obvious mutual appreciation between Putin and Trump, the U.S.-Russia honeymoon appears to be over, at least for the time being.