Tabnak – It’s now an admitted fact, even by the officials in Moscow and Washington that the US-Russian relationship is experiencing one of its worst periods after the cold war. However, it seems that the two sides are still trying to prevent any escalation, which could lead to a real global crisis.
According to a report published by Financial Express, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday that Moscow "is ready to normalize its dialogue” with Washington if Washington abandons its "confrontational approach” with Moscow.
Lavrov met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of a series of ASEAN ministers’ meetings in the Philippine capital. Both sides discussed Russia’s countermeasures to US sanctions. "Naturally, such actions (the US sanctions), including the illegal seizure of our diplomatic property since December last year, could not be left unanswered,” Lavrov said in a statement issued through the TASS Russian News Agency.
"This will be in this way from now on. At the same time, we are ready to normalize the dialogue, if Washington gives up the confrontational line,” he added. In the same statement, Lavrov said he "had a lengthy meeting with Rex Tillerson.”
In his turn, Tillerson said Russia had expressed some willingness to resume talks about the crisis in Ukraine, where a 2015 ceasefire between Kiev's forces and Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country is regularly violated. "We should find places we can work together... In places we have differences we're going to have to continue to find ways to address those," Reuters quotes Tillerson as saying.
However, Tillerson said Sunday the US will respond by Sept. 1 to Russia’s move to make a major cut in American diplomatic staff. Tillerson, speaking to reporters in the Philippines, said he told Lavrov of the deadline. Tillerson said he told Lavrov that the US still hasn't decided how it will respond. He added that he asked Lavrov "several clarifying questions" about the act of Russian retaliation.
On the other hand, Aljazeera reports that the United States has cautiously raised concern over Russia's alleged interference in last year's presidential election and its effect on relations between the two nations.
According to the report, Tillerson has told his Russian counterpart that Moscow's meddling in the vote created "serious mistrust" between the two countries. "Russian meddling in the elections was certainly a serious incident," Tillerson said. "We talked about that in the discussion that we had with Lavrov yesterday."
It should be noted that US Congress and a special prosecutor are investigating allegations that Russians managed to tip the results of the vote last year in US President Donald Trump's favor. Russia has furiously denied the claims.
Furthermore, earlier this month, Donald Trump grudgingly signed what he called a "seriously flawed" package of sanctions against Russia. The legislation is aimed at penalizing Moscow for interference in the election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.
However, it seems that the two governments are looking to cooperate on some critical issues, especially on Syria and Ukraine. Tillerson’s special envoy for Ukraine, former US ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, IS heading to Moscow soon for talks amid a stalemate in the conflict and an uptick in violence. Discussions are also continuing on expanding the US-Russian cease-fire with Jordan in a small corner of Syria's southwest, weeks after it was implemented.