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Quick solutions in Russian-US relations unlikely due to Obama legacy — Kremlin aide

May 12, 16:19 UTC+3

"Obama and his team have left the gravest legacy on the Russian track and clearing away these obstructions will be extremely difficult," Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said

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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, May 12. /TASS/. The Kremlin does not expect fast solution to all problems in Russian-US relations, because the former president, Barack Obama and his team have left the gravest legacy, Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov told the media on Friday.

"Naturally, we do not expect that all problems - and there are quite a few of them - will be resolved overnight, because Obama and his team have left the gravest legacy on the Russian track and clearing away these obstructions will be extremely difficult," Ushakov said.

He pointed out that the current situation was aggravated "by conditions where the Russophobic hysteria, launched during the presidential election campaign, including insinuations about our alleged intervention in the election, keeps reverberating and harming the atmosphere of a dialog," he stated.

"Sadly, this is a reality and it cannot be ignored. But, despite the difficulties stemming from the no simple internal political situation in the United States, the leaders of our countries are determined to tackle concrete tasks and achieve concrete results," Ushakov said.

"It is quite obvious that quite a few acute issues have been accumulated in the world and it is hard or even impossible to resolve them without pro-active interaction between Russia and the United States," Ushakov said, adding he was certain there was potential for coordinating efforts.

As an example he mentioned the struggle against terrorism, including that on the Syrian track, and also resistance to other dangerous threats and the settlement of regional crises.

Moscow ready for dialogue with US 

Moscow is ready for dialogue with the United States and expects Washington to demonstrate similar readiness, Ushakov said.

"Russia is open for dialogue with the United States in various spheres, including Syria and any other areas where our interests meet or can meet," he said. "Evidently, it is possible to reach results and improve the atmosphere of our relations only on the basis of fundamental principles of equality and mutual respect to each other’s interests."

"We expect the current [US] administration to demonstrate its practical readiness to begin to look for solutions of the existing problems that emerged not through our fault. We expect concrete steps in the context of the bilateral and international agenda," Ushakov stressed.

"As concerns settlement of bilateral issues, progress is very modest but there are agreements to continue efforts to find solutions, including in the format of meetings with deputy foreign ministers," he said, adding that the first such contact took place in New York on May 8.

According to the Kremlin aide, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’ visit "demonstrated in general that despite the problems inherited from the past, we have a lot of possibilities for joint work."

"Obviously, we have no overexpectations about the new [US] administration, we a realistic about the state of affairs," he said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin "has been repeatedly pointing to direct interest in joint efforts with the Americans to improve bilateral relations." "President Trump and his team are well aware of that," Ushakov underscored.

He expressed the hope that Washington’s step would finally make it possible to begin rebuild mutual trust. "Naturally, we will follow such steps, if any," he added.

Russian-US relations start getting substantive content 

Relations between Moscow and Washington are being gradually built up, according to the Kremlin aide.

"The visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Washington on May 10 continued a series of contacts with leadership of the new (US) administration at different levels, which are being gradually built up and start getting a substantive content," Ushakov said.

He noted that since US President Donald Trump took office, the Russian and US leaders have had three phone conversations and in April US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid a visit to Moscow and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ushakov said Lavrov’s talks with Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday and his negotiations with the US president in the White House "were rather substantive and candid."

"Both sides have an understanding that serious efforts are needed for normalizing Russian-US relations, which were destroyed by the previous (US) administration," he stressed.

"No matter how certain forces in the US establishment resist this, building up constructive cooperation between Moscow and Washington meets long-term interests of our countries and most importantly, the tasks of ensuring security and stability in the world," Ushakov said.

The US president confirmed that he is interested in establishing a mutually beneficial, business-like and pragmatic dialogue to search together for solutions to international and bilateral issues, Ushakov said commenting on the May 10 talks between Trump and Lavrov in Washington.

Moscow expects US to return Russian diplomatic property

Russia expects to receive back its overseas property in the United States but the patience it displays is not unlimited, according to Ushakov.

"The improvement of the atmosphere of bilateral relations largely depends on removing numerous irritants created by Washington in recent years. In particular, we expect to get back the Russian diplomatic property illegally seized from us at the New Year by the previous US administration," the Kremlin aide said.

"The previous US authorities "expelled a large number of Russian diplomats at that time," he said.

Russia is ready for reciprocal measures, if the United States does not return Russian diplomatic property, according to Ushakov.

‘We did not immediately start to respond to these actions but the principle of reciprocity in diplomacy is valid, about which the president of Russia spoke expressly immediately after the above-mentioned outrageous acts by the administration of [ex-US President Barack] Obama, about which [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov also spoke during his visit to Washington on May 10," the Kremlin aide said.

Nevertheless, Russia warned the United States back in December 2016 that "the situation has to be returned to the initial point," the Kremlin aide said.

"If this is not done, then, of course, some counter-measures by the Russian side will arise on the agenda," he said.

"We are showing patience and balance but this patience is, of course, not unlimited," he said.

The Kremlin aide did not give a specific answer to the question about when the return of the Russian diplomatic property could be expected.

"Americans, as Minister Lavrov reported after the talk [with US President Donald Trump], are looking for preliminary solutions and we’ll see which option the Americans will offer and what they are ready for," Ushakov said.

"Naturally, we expect specific steps from the new US administration," he added.

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