Souvenir matryoshka dolls depicting Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, left, and Donald Trump, U.S. president, sit on display at a tourist stall in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)  

Kremlin Sees Bad U.S.-Russia Ties as Top 2017 Disappointment

(Bloomberg) -- Topping the Kremlin’s list for disappointments in 2017? The failure to restore ties with the U.S., according to spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“Russian-American relations and the position Washington takes toward our country can’t but elicit regret,” Peskov told a conference call Friday, saying the situation “easily could” rank as the leading negative note for this year. He blamed “anti-Russian hysteria” in Washington around the probes into alleged meddling by Moscow in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, saying the Kremlin still hopes for improvement, but “it takes two to tango.”

A year ago, the Kremlin was looking forward to a new era in relations with Donald Trump preparing to enter the White House after calling for warming up a relationship that had fallen into the deep freeze under Barack Obama. But instead, Washington and Moscow have experienced the worst tensions in decades.

The U.S. is preparing steps toward new sanctions on Russia that Peskov warned this week could amount to ”possibly unbearable risks and dangers” to ties. A new U.S. law that took effect in August calls for the Treasury to compile a list of business tycoons and companies seen as close to the Kremlin as potential targets for more sanctions -- first imposed over the Ukraine crisis and later linked to the alleged election interference. The law also calls for a report on the possible impact of imposing restrictions on the purchase of Russian government debt by U.S. investors.

‘Inflated Expectations’

Last week, as the U.S. added the names of several prominent Russians to its sanctions list, President Vladimir Putin approved a plan to issue special bonds to allow wealthy local investors worried about sanctions to bring money back into the country.

Russia has accused the U.S. of stoking the conflict in Ukraine with a plan to send defensive weapons, backing “terrorists” in Syria and risking accidental war with its harsh rhetoric over North Korea. The U.S., meanwhile, charges Moscow with meddling in Western elections and not doing enough to get North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear ambitions.

Despite the tensions, personal relations between Trump and Putin appear warm. Earlier this month, the Russian leader thanked his U.S. counterpart for passing along intelligence that helped foil a terrorist plot in St. Petersburg. Trump, meanwhile, expressed gratitude for Putin’s endorsement of his economic policies.

There’s no meeting between the leaders under discussion at present, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this week. In an interview with the Interfax news agency released Thursday, he denied Russia was disappointed with the soured relationship.

“Disappointment, as a rule, arises from inflated expectations and we didn’t have any of those Russian-American relations,” he said.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.