Why Russia isn’t thrilled with US midterm election results


Why Russia isn't thrilled with US midterm election results
US President Donald Trump and Russia's Vladamir Putin. PHOTO| COURTESY

The Russian government has sent a message of pessimism on its relations with the United States after the Democrats seized control of the powerful House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Results show the Democrats with a House majority, in a shakeup that could stymie President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda.

With control of the House, the Democrats could ramp up a probe into the possibility Trump’s election campaign team colluded with the Russian government to win the White House in the 2016 election, which Trump denies.

“It’s fair to suggest with a high degree of confidence there are no glowing prospects in terms of normalization of US-Russian relations on the horizon,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday, when asked to comment on the Democrats’ gains in the House.

He added that Russia was, however, still open to dialogue. “We have a lot of problems in front of us that require our communication.

These are problems of strategic security and arms control, and they will not just go away on their own without our conversations,” he said in a conference call with reporters.

Russia described relations with the United States as at an all-time low during the final months of the Obama administration, when the accusations of election meddling emerged. Moscow has repeatedly talked of a reset in ties since Trump’s ascension to the presidency.

“Russia didn’t interfere, is not interfering and has no plans to interfere in the electoral processes of any country, including the USA,” said Peskov, repeating Russia’s denial.

Asked by CNN whether the Democrats’ midterms gains might exacerbate tensions over the meddling issue, he said: “I don’t think it’s possible to complicate them even further — it’s all pretty complicated already.”

Meanwhile, a special counsel investigation into the election interference had led to indictments for several members of Trump’s election campaign team.

The US President has sent mixed messages at different times over whether he believes Russia interfered in the 2016 vote.

At a summit in July with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Trump declined to endorse his own intelligence community’s assessment that Russia had interfered.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet again in Paris on the sidelines of an event this weekend marking the end of the World War I, and later this month at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires.

The US State Department on Tuesday said it intended to impose a second round of sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom, after Moscow failed to assure Washington it would not use chemical weapons.

Peskov dismissed the announcement as illegal.

“We think that these restrictions imposed by the United States against Russia are illegal and will treat further steps — if they are to come — in a similar manner,” he said.

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