Russian Diplomat Says New US Sanctions Won’t Help to Mend Ties

MOSCOW (AP) — A senior Russian diplomat said Wednesday a new package of U.S. sanctions against Russia harms chances for improving the ties between the two countries, pushing them into “uncharted territory.”

Russian officials welcomed Donald Trump’s presidential win last year, hoping to mend relations with the United States which reached a post-Cold War low under President Barack Obama. But six months into Trump’s presidency ties between the two countries remain tense, and the much-anticipated first meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin early this month did not seem to produce any tangible results.

Eager to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, Congress on Tuesday overwhelmingly backed a new package of sanctions against Moscow that prohibits Trump from waiving the penalties without first getting permission from Congress.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov criticized the sanctions on Wednesday as “closing off the prospect for normalizing ties.” He told the Interfax news agency the new sanctions are pushing Russia and the U.S. “into uncharted territory both in political and diplomatic sense.”

Elsewhere in Moscow, Frants Klintsevich, first deputy chairman of the defense committee at the upper chamber of Russian parliament, warned that the new sanctions could hurt Russia’s efforts to work with the U.S. in fighting terrorism. Cooperation on counter-terrorism between Russia and the U.S. “will be extremely problematic if at all possible,” Klintsevich said in comments carried by Russian news agencies on Wednesday.

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