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ERR in Moscow: Election meddling to continue impacting US-Russian relations

ERR Moscow correspondent Anton Aleksejev.
ERR Moscow correspondent Anton Aleksejev. Source: ERR

According to ERR's Moscow correspondent Anton Aleksejev, Monday's press conference with US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly demonstrated that accusations that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election will have a lasting impact on US-Russian relations.

Nobody in Moscow was expecting any breakthroughs at Monday's meeting between Trump and Putin; Russian experts are just hoping that the initiated dialogue will continue. The Helsinki Summit, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera," allowed the Russian and US heads of state to discuss issues impacting the two countries' bilateral relations, but not solve them.

According to Aleksejev, however, the press conference to follow the meeting clearly demonstrated that cooperation regarding Syria, Iran or Ukraine is being prevented not just by objective contradictions, but also, and primarily, accusations that Russia interfered in the US presidential elections two years ago.

"How can this interference affect negotiations over the control of strategic arms?" asked Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Andrey Kortunov. "But this image that Russia is intervening in and swaying political institutions creates mistrust of every action by Moscow in every area. And this prevents cooperation even in matters that are very far removed from the US' internal politics."

The Russian interference matter looks likely to sour bilateral relations between the two countries for some time. "This matter will only be closed once Trump leaves the White House," said Valery Garbuzov, director of the Institute of the USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences. "This is the logic of the internal political struggle in the US."

Of utmost importance to Moscow, however, are sanctions.

"Even if you were to suspend sanctions right now, where is the guarantee that Congress wouldn't thwart this move?" asked RIAC Director of Programs Ivan Timofejev. "Or where is the guarantee that a new president wouldn't come along and say that now everything is going to be different? We cannot trust the American system."

Russian experts do not believe, however, that Monday's summit was a competition that Trump lost to Putin.

"We cannot conclude that Putin won," said Garbuzov. "I do think, however, that should this meeting give rise to permanent dialogue, then both [Trump and Putin] may end up winners of said dialogue."

In any case, it is clear at the moment that it will be quite some time before the US and Russia achieve victory.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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