Russia has rejected President-elect Donald Trump’s offer to lift economic sanctions in exchange for reducing nuclear arms deployment.
According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian government is uninterested in accepting a sanctions lift in exchange for nuclear arms control.
Ryabkov told reporters at the United Nations in New York on Monday that “sanctions are not a subject for dialogue. We have never discussed any criteria for the listing of sanctions and are not doing it now. All these sanctions were introduced under contrived and illegitimate pretexts.”
Ryabkov explained that without further discussion, nothing will happen:
‘Without dialogue nothing will happen at all, but it would be too naive to think Moscow would change its [defense posture] for that or other reasons. This [posture] isn’t based on petty calculus; it is linked to the understanding of national interests of the Russian Federation.’
Perhaps the President-elect has gotten slightly ahead of himself.
In his first exclusive UK interview with The London Times, Trump proposed one of the biggest nuclear arms agreements between Washington and Moscow since President Obama signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 2010. The 2010 treaty was an agreement between the U.S. and Russian to limit the number of long-range, strategic nuclear weapons deployed by both countries.
Trump told The Times:
‘They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it.’
It seems, however, that Russia won’t be so quick to cooperate as Trump had previously assumed.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told press that Russia looks forward to “combatting terrorism” and settling the Syrian crisis with the U.S.
Lavrov remained optimistic that U.S.-Russia relations will improve under the Trump administration, and that together our two countries will be able to take on a different approach than that undertaken by the Obama administration.
Lavrov told press:
‘What we hear from Donald Trump [on Syria] and his team speaks to how they have a different approach [to Obama] and won’t resort to double standards.’
Trump’s interview with The London Times mainly discussed UK-U.S. relations, although he briefly touched on his opinions regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
When asked if he trusts Merkel or Putin more, Trump said:
‘Well, I start off trusting both –but let’s see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.’
Despite his seemingly cozy relationship with Putin, Trump remained critical of Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war, telling The Times he thinks “it’s a very tough thing. Aleppo has been such a terrible humanitarian situation.”
That said, it’s clear that Russia doesn’t seem to eager to make deals with the former business mogul. Although his hopes to restore U.S.-Russia relations are seemingly at the forefront of his presidential agenda, Trump may, in fact, have more work cut out for himself than he realizes.
Feature Image via Getty Images.