US-Russia Relations Won’t Improve Unless Russia Agrees to End Donbas War – Former US Ambassador
19 September, 2018

The occupation of Crimea and Donbas, Skripal poisoning and Russian cyberattacks are all behind the rapidly deteriorating U.S.-Russia relations, says former US ambassador to Russia and Ukraine John Tefft.

“It’s a very difficult, strained relationship, probably as strained as any I have seen in my lifetime,” Tefft told Hromadske at the Yalta European Strategy conference, which took place in Kyiv on September 15.  

The cyberattacks, which resulted in the U.S. indicting 12 Russian intelligence officers, have been a particular source of tension between the two countries. Especially when Russia retaliated with an attempt to interrogate U.S. citizens – a move which was “completely rejected by the Trump administration,” Tefft adds.

“12 GRU people who are involved in cyber attacks, that’s one thing, but [professor and former ambassador] Mike McFaul and the others who are on that list are simply American political academic experts and other political figures,” Tefft explains.

Photo credit: HROMADSKE

But as the U.S. government considers imposing additional sanctions on Russia in light of these cyber attacks, it seems as though it’s not just Congress that disapproves of Russia’s behaviour, Tefft points out. According to a CNN poll conducted in June 2018, 72% of Americans view Russia unfavourably.

“There’s very little sympathy for Russia at this point in America,” the former ambassador adds.

When asked about what could potentially improve relations between the U.S. and Russia, Tefft says that “an agreement with Ukraine to stop the war, to stop the killing, and to resolve the problems in [Donbas]” would be a start.