A Kremlin spokesperson yesterday called the worsening US-Russia relations a major disappointment of 2017, noting that “it takes two to tango”.
The spokesperson for Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia would still seek to improve the ties between the global superpowers based on mutual respect.
The relationship has worsened over recent years and this year reached its lowest point since the Cold War, not least thanks to the massive publicity around allegations of Russian meddling in last year’s election that saw Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency.
Reports of Russian meddling in last year’s election have been the catalyst for the nosedive in relations between the two countries. Earlier this year, a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated that it could be said with “high confidence” that Russia had interfered with the electoral process.
That report stemmed from the joint assertion from the ODNI and the Department for Homeland Security (DHS) in late 2016 that Russia had deliberately hacked emails with the intention of interfering with the election.
The report stated that the Russian government preferred then-candidate Trump over Hillary Clinton, and since then there has been a persistent cloud of collusion hanging over his first year in office.
“Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report said.
The report also alleged that Putin himself personally ordered an influence campaign that would smear Clinton in favour of Trump and undermine US public faith in the democratic process.
In an interview with the New York Times on Thursday, Trump said that the investigation into those allegations makes the US “look very bad” and puts the country “in a very bad position”.
….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017
Incidentally, during the same interview, he claimed the media will in the future look to cover him more favourably – after their biased and often “fake” coverage of him previously – in order to secure his reelection, thus improving their ratings.
Trump also boasted about his unparalleled understanding of taxes (better than any accountant) as well as his knowledge of the ‘big bills’ in Congress, which he said exceeded that of any previous US president.
The king of hyperbole has never been far from the major headlines this year, not least because of the investigation into Russian collusion that ensnared most of Trump’s top advisers, including members of his family. Donald Trump Jr was investigated for receiving emails containing ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton.
As part of Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, questions have been asked of Trump’s entire campaign and even indicted two of his most senior staffers – Rick Gates and Paul Manafort – in October. Earlier this month, Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser, pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about having undisclosed contacts within the Russian government during Trump’s presidential transition. Evidence against Trump and the Russians has been mounting throughout the year.
But despite the inculpation of those members of Trump’s inner circle, as well as the scrutiny of the president himself under the potential obstruction of justice, the question of whether there was any tangible coordination between them remains unanswered. The arrest of Gates and Manafort, for example, was on money laundering charges.
But as Mueller’s investigation continues, it looks like Trump’s Russia-meddling woes will go on long into the new year and beyond.