The Kremlin’s chief spokesman said Russian officials made direct proposals to Washington about full normalization of ties between the two countries following President Donald Trump’s election, but nothing came of it.
The comments by Dmitry Peskov on September 13 appeared to confirm an earlier report by the news outlet BuzzFeed that said two to three months after Trump took office in January Moscow proposed “wholesale restoration of diplomatic, military, and intelligence channels.”
Those channels had been disrupted or cut in recent years as U.S.-Russian relations spiraled downward over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, Moscow’s alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election, cybersecurity, and other matters.
The BuzzFeed report did not indicate whether Russia was prepared to make any concessions as part of its outreach to the United States or change its position on any of the issues that have severely strained relations with Washington.
Peskov told Russian news agencies that Moscow indeed made such proposals through diplomatic channels. He did not confirm specifics of the BuzzFeed report, such as when the proposals were handed over, to whom, and what specific steps they contained.
"Yes, without question, such proposals were handed to the American side in various formats," he was quoted as saying by TASS and Interfax.
"Moscow has systematically pressed for the resumption of dialogue, for an exchange of views, and for efforts to find joint solutions. Unfortunately, we have been met with no such reciprocity," Peskov said.
U.S. officials have not commented on either the BuzzFeed report or the Kremlin comments.
Russian officials made little effort to hide their support for Trump during last year’s U.S. election campaign, and the hope that the two countries would be able to mend fences after he took office.
But the Trump administration has instead been hobbled by congressional and FBI investigations into suspicious interactions between Trump aides and Russian officials.
Ties plummeted further in recent weeks as Moscow ordered Washington to sharply cut its diplomatic personnel in Russia, and Washington ordered the closure of Russia’s consulate in San Francisco.
In recent days, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has suggested there may be other retaliation against U.S. diplomats, including travel restrictions and taking away some parking privileges at U.S. diplomatic posts.