MOSCOW – Russia will not give up attempts to repair its relations with the United States, but there is little chance that that will happen soon, with Moscow being dragged into internal political conflicts in the United States, Russia’s foreign minister said.
In an interview with the Russian weekly Argumenty i Fakty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he is not expecting much from US-Russian relations back on track before the next US presidential election. Many American politicians are exploiting anti-Russian sentiment to stimulate their voters, he believes.
“Many US politicians are trying to outdo each other to feed Russianophobia, using that factor in their domestic political struggle. We understand that it will only get warmer as the 2020 elections get closer,” Lavrov said, adding that Russia will continue to seek common ground with the US – but Washington has to reciprocate to improve things.
“Cooperation between us is the key moment to ensure stability and predictability in international affairs – but not everything depends on us: two are necessary for the tango,” he added.
Lavrov declined to speculate on when the retaliations could improve, referring to “inconsistent and often unpredictable” policies coming from Washington. He reiterated, however, that Russia is ready to “work patiently to fix them”, provided the US respects the main Russian interests.
Not helping the cause of reconciliation is the continuous “hunting” of Russian citizens abroad. Lavrov said Moscow is not afraid to retaliate when Russian nationals are arrested in third countries and extradited to the US – but will do so in accordance with international law, not with rival “gangster-like” habits.
‘US will be responsible for Iran’s catastrophic war’
Lavrov believes the rising tensions in the Middle East are the “direct consequence of Washington’s anti-Iranian line and some of its allies.”
“The US is flexing its muscles, launched a campaign to discredit Iran, accused the Islamic Republic of all its sins,” Lavrov said, adding that it would now “only take one match” to set the whole region on fire with potentially devastating consequences.
“The responsibility for the potentially catastrophic consequences would be in the US,” he concluded.