- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Accusations of election meddling and subsequently imposed sanctions have anything but advanced efforts to mend Moscow and Washington’s frayed relationship, outgoing Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak acknowledged in an interview published Wednesday on the eve of Mr. Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with his Kremlin counterpart.

Mr. Kislyak said the lingering debate surrounding Russia’s widely-accepted role in last year’s U.S. presidential race have stalled efforts to restore ties between the former Cold War foes.

“Work with Donald Trump’s administration is unfolding uneasily,” Mr. Kislyak told TASS, a state-owned newswire.

“The internal political struggle in the United States has dealt a heavy blow to Russian-U.S. relations,” the envoy added. “Sometimes, you are surprised at the ease with which the American establishment is ready to sacrifice normalcy in our relations.”

Mr. Kislyak’s comments were published in a wide-ranging interview two days before Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladmir Putin for the first time during the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The U.S. intelligence community previously concluded that Mr. Putin personally authorized a state-sponsored operation that aimed to elect Mr. Trump president in 2016 over his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and the Obama administration responded in December by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats and seizing estates in New York and Maryland.

Russia has denied interfering in last year’s election. Yet with lawmakers eyeing further sanctions in recent weeks, however, Mr. Kislyak’s said that Washington’s latest conduct demonstrates the U.S. is unwilling for now to renew ties with Russia.

“It’s hard to count on a quick and easy way to normalization: there are too many people who want to hinder its advance” Mr. Kislyak said. “The sanctioning frenzy against our country in the U.S. Congress only confirms that. The new sanctions are another headache.

“I think that history will refute these lies over time, and the United States will start returning to more normal relations with Russia — especially because it would serve their [the Americans’] interests,” he said.

Mr. Kislyak has served as Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. since 2008, but only recently gained notoriety over his past conversations with current and former members of Mr. Trump’s administration. Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, resigned in February after it was revealed that he mislead Vice President Pence concerning his own past exchanges with the envoy. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, recused himself from Justice Department matters regarding Russia in March over his own previously undisclosed discussions with Mr. Kislyak.

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