The Trump administration has recently worsened relations with Russia as a result of a number of moves, including naming Moscow a “rival power,” sanctioning a close ally of Putin’s and providing Ukraine with anti-tank weapons to fight Russian-backed militias.
According to CNN, the series of insults and attacks aimed at Russia highlight a turn away from the more cooperative relationship between Moscow and President Donald Trump, which he insisted on during his campaign and his early days in office.
However, Trump’s plans of improving relations with Russia have been affected by numerous factors and events, the most prominent of which is the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential campaign and the general mistrust among diplomats, lawmakers and the intelligence community of Russia due to its cyber activities.
The overall sentiment toward Russia has changed as well, with an increasing number of people in the White House expressing caution toward Moscow, and many other leaving the administration for advocating for warmer relations between the two countries.
“We’re a year in, and it’s looking like we’ve settled on a Russia policy and that Russia policy is pretty confrontational. It’s definitely not the policy you would have expected from Trump the candidate. I think even the Russians understand the idea of a rapprochement is off the table,” Matt Rojansky of the Kennan Institute said.
The decision to provide Ukraine with “enhanced defensive capabilities” was announced by the State Department on December 22, not long after it was announced that Ukraine would be allowed to purchase small arms from U.S. manufacturers.
The move was condemned by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who said the United States had crossed the line and was “pushing [Ukraine] to new bloodshed.”
At the same time, the Pentagon accused Russia of not complying with an agreement aimed at preventing accidents in the Syrian airspace.
“Russia is failing to genuinely de-conflict airspace in Syria. Some of these incidents are not mistakes,” Pentagon Spokesperson Dana W. White said.