Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that there was little difference between the administration of former US president Barack Obama and his successor, Donald Trump, when it came to their policies toward his country.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that in a soon-to-be-published interview Lavrov gave the Italian newspaper Libero, he complained that not only had Trump not undone any of his predecessor’s anti-Russian legislation, but Congress had actually applied new sanctions.
“With the submission of the anti-Russian lobby in Washington, new and unfriendly steps are being taken in various areas,” Lavrov said.
He noted specifically that unilateral sanctions against Russia have been expanded as had the buildup of NATO and US forces near Russia’s borders.
At the start of Trump’s presidency in January, the Republican leader said he hoped for improved relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
But after the US Congress approved new economic sanctions against Moscow over its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, Putin in July ordered drastic cuts in US staff in retaliation.
In August, Trump grudgingly signed what he called a “seriously flawed” package of sanctions against Russia. The legislation is aimed at penalizing Moscow for interference in the election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.
In the interview Lavrov reportedly also fumed over the August shuttering of its San Francisco consulate as well as two annexes in Washington and New York, which came in response to Russia expelling 455 US diplomats.
“An unprecedented attack was the closure by the US authorities of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and the seizure of five diplomatic facilities that are our state property,” he concluded.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in August that Russian meddling in the election had “created serious mistrust between our two countries.”
A US Justice Department investigation is moving ahead into Russia’s election interference and potential Trump campaign collusion. Trump denies any collusion and has repeatedly questioned US intelligence about Moscow’s involvement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.