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Trump's statements on lifting anti-Russian sanctions 'just rhetoric', says Russian MP

The ultimate decision on that matter is up to the Congress, the politician stressed

MOSCOW, August 21. /TASS/. US President Donald Trump’s pronouncements about possible lifting of the anti-Russian sanctions in exchange for Russia’s concessions on Syria and Ukraine are nothing but sheer rhetoric to meet popular demand in the United States for better relations with Russia as the ultimate decision on that matter is up to the Congress, a senior Russian lawmaker told TASS on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump said in an interview with Reuters earlier that he was ready to look at possible lifting of the anti-Russian sanctions should Moscow did anything useful for Washington on Syria and Ukraine.

"I don’t think the political weight of Trump’s pronouncements about his readiness to look at abandoning the anti-Russian sanctions in exchange for its concessions on Syria and Ukraine goes beyond sheer rhetoric. He cannot lift what was imposed by somebody else, bearing in mind the fact that the sanctions were shaped as a legislative act, which de facto strips the US leader of the right to acting and decision-making on that matter," said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international committee of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house.

"It looks like the Congress is not going to stop its activities," he stressed.

Moreover, in his words, the concessions in question "are unrealistic" as the process of liberating Syria from militants cannot be stopped and the country’s government cannot be changed at the discretion of any external player. "And the rest is unlikely to be of any interest for America," he said.

As for Ukraine, Kosachev noted, the United States has nothing to do with the settlement process in formal terms, as it is not a party to the talks. "If they interpret ‘concessions’ as [US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt] Volker’s initiatives, which simply echo the official Kiev’s position, there is nothing to discuss, since it runs counter to the Minsk agreements," he stressed.

According to Kosachev, Trump’s statement came as a reaction to an opinion poll revealing public moods in favor of better relations between the two states. "Typically, Trump never makes any casual statements. And when he is speaking about his readiness to lift the sanctions, a move utterly unpopular with the American establishment, he is trying to react to the attitudes of rank-and-file Americans. A recent Gallup opinion poll indicates that American citizens think it more important to try to continue efforts to improve relations between the nations (58%) rather than take tough diplomatic and economic steps against Russia (36%)," the Russian lawmaker noted.

"That is why the US leader tried to demonstrate that the problem is not with him but with the stubborn Congress and with the lack of some concessions from Russia," he added.

US’ anti-Russian sanctions

The United States began to impose sanctions on Russia in 2014, immediately after Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Ever since, the sanctions, covering both individuals and legal entities, have been extended and expanded more than once and under various pretexts, including Russia’s alleged meddling with the 2016 presidential elections and alleged violations of human rights in Russia.