12:58 GMT24 September 2020
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    Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that the new round of US anti-Russian sanctions “will only further complicate the possibilities of dialogue” between the two countries.

    She also added that the US used “a completely invented” connection to the Skripal case as a pretext for the additional sanctions that came into effect on Monday. Sputnik discussed US-Russian relations with Rogers Smith, professor of Political science — Associate Dean for Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Sputnik: What hinders the improvement in US-Russia relations?

    Rogers Smith: Well, frankly the perception of most of the American leadership, including the Republican party leadership is that President Putin is garnering support at home by trying to expand Russian influence in the world, to re-create the situation when Russia was a great global power as a rival to the United States, and that Russia is doing so by pursuing interference not just in American elections, but elections in a number of countries and engaging in a number of activities that the American leadership sees as inimical to American national security interests, so the perception is, frankly, that Russia is behaving aggressively and that the sanctions are an appropriate response.

    Sputnik: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has actually called for a European response to US sanctions on Russia; how could the US policy of sanctions affect relations between Washington and its European allies?

    Rogers Smith: Well for the most part, most European allies have been supportive of American sanctions.

    We're in a period of world history in which old alliances are being strained, fragmenting and being restructured, and we’re likely to see some of that conduct going on in this area too, but at this point the US concerns about Russia are shared, if anything, more strongly by many Western European leaders than this example of one German minister would indicate.

    Sputnik: And yet French President Emmanuel Macron said that Europe can no longer rely on the US in terms of security; how would you assess his statement on the back of the current situation between Russia and the US?

    Rogers Smith: He’s reacting to two things; first, the fact that President Trump himself does not appear to be as concerned to combat what seems to many as inappropriate Russian influence as the rest of the American leadership is, and Trump is the President after all, and he’s probably even more concerned about the fact that Trump has challenged American commitments to support NATO, to support the European Union — and those are things in which France has deeply invested for its own security and economic interests.

    Sputnik: Where do you think it’s going to lead? Russia is probably going to be introducing tit-for-tat measures, obviously, any sanctions against Russia companies, there's a lot of Russia energy involvement and dependence even in Europe, what's going to happen with that?

    Rogers Smith: It’s a good question. Russia is not in a position to damage the United States economically directly but Russia is in a position to bring heavy pressure on its European allies.

    Whether under President Trump, America will assist its allies and how it will assist its allies is very much an open question, and unclear at this point. It’s also true that President Trump is engaged in trade wars with China and an increasing number of other nations, so even though the US isn’t economically dependent on Russia, all those trade wars may create more vulnerability for the American economy down the road. President Trump believes America will win all these trade wars and it will work out to America's benefit, but that’s the big uncertaintiy we face.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Rogers Smith and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    economy, maneuvers, world order, influence, restructure, alliances, Rogers Smith, Russia, United States
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