MOSCOW (AP) — The spokesman for President Vladimir Putin says the Kremlin views deteriorating relations with the United States as a major disappointment of the year.
Ties between Moscow and Washington soured to reach a post-Cold War low following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and allegations of election meddling in 2016. The two countries have been introducing tit-for-tat measures all year ranging from restrictions on embassy staff to legislation targeting state-owned media.
Asked about the Kremlin's biggest disappointments of 2017, Dmitry Peskov told reporters that worsening ties with the U.S. are "certainly" on the list.
Peskov reiterated the Kremlin's position that Russia seeks good relations with the U.S. based on "mutual trust and mutual respect" but added that "it takes two to tango."
Russian officials and lawmakers last week expressed dismay with the U.S. decision to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons, including anti-tank missiles, warning the move would only fuel hostilities in eastern Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon Friday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. approach to Ukraine's conflict with Russia-backed separatist rebels wasn't changing despite the decision to supply weapons to Ukraine.
"I don't see an evolving U.S military role in Ukraine," Mattis said. "Right now, we have some trainers there helping to train their army to NATO standards, and that has a lot to do with making certain it serves the needs of the Ukrainian people, in the way democracies' armies do, so the U.S. military role remains the same."
He said there was no plan to expand the U.S. footprint in Ukraine and also downplayed the potential effect of the new arms his country is supplying.
"As long as no one wants to invade Ukraine, hopefully it won't have any big impact," Mattis said. "They're defensive weapons."
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