Trump praises Putin for not retaliating on diplomats' expulsion
Donald Trump praised Vladimir Putin for not retaliating over the US expulsion of 35 suspected Russian spies by President Barack Obama. Putin had rebuked the Obama administration but had reserved the right to retaliate. Further Putin said that more steps towards restoring "Russian-American relations will be built on the basis of the policy which the administration of President D. Trump will carry out".
Russia-United States relations
For over 200 years, Russia and the US shared multifaceted diplomatic relations. After the Cold War and Soviet Union's breakup (1991), the ties took on a new dimension. The relationships were warm during the 1990s but reportedly deteriorated later. The relations were strained during the Ukraine Crisis, Annexation of Crimea, and in 2015 due to differences over Russia's interference in the Syrian Civil War.
Russia, Syria's key ally
Russia provided financial, military and political support to the Syrian Government since 2011. Russia launched an air strike in Sep'15 to stabilize the country's government; it targeted terrorists who became active during the conflict. For Russia, which has been away from the world stage for a time, to consolidate its position (in Syria) nearer home would help restore part of its previous global role.
Bilateral negotiations over Syria
In Sep'15, Russia had reportedly invited the US to join the Iraqi-based information center established by Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Russia to coordinate their efforts in Syria and normalize the war-torn country, but the US refused. The US termed Russia's military activities in Syria "a recipe for disaster". In Oct'16, suspending bilateral negotiations over Syria, the US called Russia-Syria's joint operation in Aleppo "offensive".
The US accuses Russia of barbarism
During an emergency meeting, the US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power alleged that Russia told outright lies to the UN Security Council about its conduct in Syria. She accused Russian and Syrian forces of barbarism over the bombing in Syria's Aleppo City. However, Russia and Syria stated they were trying to attack terrorists while harming as few citizens as possible.
On the brink of a conflict
The end of the Cold War in 1973 was supposed to mark the beginning of a new era. Russia and the US are now on the brink of a conflict over Syria, but war isn't beneficial to either. They have an important role in the settlement of the Syrian issue; but without basic trust and understanding, the dialogue would be laid on shaky foundations.
Where did it all go wrong?
Russia and the US aren't able to forge a different relationship. Former CIA Officer and Centre for Security Studies at Georgetown University's Senior Fellow Paul R Pillar said the primary fault lies with the US. The US didn't welcome Russia as a new country but rather a successor of the USSR. Hence, Russia inherited the status "as the principal focus of Western distrust."
The "original sin"
Pillar said the US' enthusiasm for NATO expansion and taking in countries that had once struggled against Moscow's rule or that had once been a part of the USSR like Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic compounded the "original sin".
Future of the bilateral ties
Russia believes the US has treated it unfairly after the Cold War episode. Observers say the US had not paid enough attention to building strong and right strategic relations with Russia in the recent period. The future of the bilateral ties depends on who becomes the next US President and whether he/she intends to "reset" the relationships and give them a new shape.
Putin, Trump vow to improve US-Russia relations
President Trump and Russian President Putin acknowledged the "low-point" in Russia-US relations and vowed to work together to improve the shaky bilateral equation. Talking over the telephone, both leaders also agreed to find "a settlement for the crisis in Syria" and began groundwork for a meeting in person. Trump's office stated that Putin had called to congratulate Trump.
NBC says Putin personally involved in US-election hack
US television network NBC has stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in the alleged hacking of servers to manipulate the US election. The report quoted 2 officials privy to the investigation who said they have a "high level of confidence" in their assessment. However, US officials have refused to comment on the matter, saying investigations are underway.
US to retaliate against Russia's vote-tampering
The Obama administration is set to announce a slew of retaliatory measures against Russia's alleged involvement in tampering with the US elections. Sources said the measures that are to be announced include economic sanctions, diplomatic censure and covert action, which could include cyber attacks. The US also believes that the Clinton email-scandal was timed to ensure that Trump makes it to the oval office.
US sanctions Russia, expels 35 diplomats over election hack
In response to their allegations of Russia having tampered with the US elections, the Obama administration sanctioned the GRU and the FSB, Russia's intelligence agencies. In addition, the US expelled 35 Russian diplomats accusing them of being spies, and shut down two Russian properties in New York and Maryland. The US hinted at a possible cyber counter attack as well.