Traces of the Cold War seem to be flourishing back to life while the push and pull between both nations increases
United States’s President Donald Trump promised to better relations with Moscow, then quickly became surrounded by scandals and allegations that Russian computer hackers helped him win the race for the White House. Russia denied election meddling; the President is being investigated for treason, he has sacked some of his closest aides, and Congress has imposed new sanctions on said country.
Russian officials vowed to respond to the US order to shut down the Russian Consulate in San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York, but also indicated that Moscow was not inclined to raise the stakes between the two countries. The Trump administration affirmed that the order issued was in retaliation of the Kremlin's "unwarranted and detrimental" demand soliciting that the US substantially reduce the size of its diplomatic staff in the European nation.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said at the BRICS summit in China that Washington’s actions towards Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States could be described as “state hooliganism”.
But after the decision to close the Russian consulate and offices in US territory, American agents searched within these facilities. “Searches conducted by the United States at the Russian diplomatic property on US soil were outrageous, constitute aggressive violations of international law”, said Ryabkov. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister added that the United States' behavior regarding Russian diplomats was far out of line, clarifying that Moscow should not act in a similar manner when responding to Washington.
The United States and Russia are at a stalemate over various issues, including the wars in Ukraine and Syria. The European nation has been accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election. As a result, Trump signed a stepped-up sanctions bill earlier this year, a move that seemed to anger the Russians.
“It is clear to everyone that there is not much hope that Russian-American relations will improve”, stated Pavel Felgenhauer, one of the most important columnists in Russia, who also resists pressure from President Vladimir Putin's government. “Russia and America are in a zero-sum game situation, which is not good, because it means that each side is going to see anything that’s bad for Russia as good for America, and everything that’s bad for America as good for Russia. It’s a prolonged confrontation and Moscow officials say that it is going to last many years, maybe a decade; this standoff is for a long time”, affirms Felgenhauer.
Russia's Foreign Ministry, Sergei Lavrov has condemned the US’s decision to seize the three Russian diplomatic facilities as a "blatantly hostile act" urging Washington to immediately reverse the call or "bear the total blame" for worsening diplomatic ties.
Consulate departments of the Russian Embassy in the United States will not be decreasing the intensity of work despite unfriendly steps on behalf of the American authorities, Nikolai Lakhonin, a spokesman for the embassy, declared in a statement. "Under the context of unfriendly steps on behalf of the United States, which led to the closure of the largest Consulate General’s Office in the United States, we would like to stress that the rest of Russian consulate offices have no plans to slow down the intensity of work on the provision of the whole range of consulate services", Lakhonin said.
Both countries now maintain three consulates in each other's territory and ostensibly similar numbers of diplomats. Exact numbers are difficult to independently verify.
Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
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