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    President Donald Trump listens during a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 12, 2017.

    Trump 'Wanted to Be Friends With Russia But Ruined Everything'

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    United States President Donald Trump was expected to revive Washington's strained relations with Russia to unlock joint capabilities to resolve global challenges, but less than six months after the inauguration both sides have expressed frustration at the increasingly deteriorating state of bilateral ties.

    "Donald Trump was supposed to do something incredible when it comes to dialogue with Russia, a new reset, but the relationship has only worsened. At least this is what former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the media," Radio Sputnik observer Maria Balyabina wrote in an article titled "Wanted to Make Friends With Russia, But Made Things Worse. Trump Ruined Everything."

    Earlier this month, Gates told CBS that the bilateral relationship has deteriorated after the presidential election in the United States. He added that "there really hasn't been any slack cut for the Russians," referring to the way the Trump administration has treated Moscow.

    "It turns out that Trump's supporters have suffered for alleged 'ties with Russia' in vain," Balyabina observed. "The search for 'the Kremlin's hand' in the US election and activities of the new administration will clearly continue. Apparently, Trump wants to avoid this so much that he makes every effort to prove that he is independent and Moscow has nothing to do with anything. In any case, the US president has not 'cut Russia any slack,' as Gates put it."

    Balyabina emphasized that this is not something that Russia wanted to achieve in the first place. Moscow's only hope was that the Trump administration would "refrain from making things worse," she said. "If Gates is to be trusted, this turned out to be unattainable."

    The Kremlin has also pointed to the lack of progress in the stated goal of improving Washington's poor relationship with Moscow. In early April, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that "the level of trust at the working level and especially at the military level has not become better but most likely has degraded" after Donald Trump came to power.

    "The assessment is crystal clear, particularly after the US airstrike in Syria," she said. "Opponents of Donald Trump and supporters of Hillary Clinton welcomed the attack, but the operation has also left them confused: should they still criticize the new president for 'excessive affection' toward the Kremlin or praise him for the lack thereof."

    Balyabina was referring to the Pentagon's massive airstrike on the Shayrat air base, operated by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Washington claimed that the facility was ostensibly used to store toxic substances and launch a chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, a town in the Idlib province.

    Syrian leadership and the SAA command denied these claims, saying that they have not used toxic substances against civilians. The Russian Defense Ministry also said that Damascus did not use chemical weapons since the Assad government destroyed these armaments under a deal brokered by Moscow and Washington in 2013.

    Moscow and Damascus condemned the Pentagon's operation, the first of its kind during the six-year-long Syrian War.

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    Tags:
    US-Russian relations, Robert Gates, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, United States, Russia
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