Russia will not give up on attempts to fix its relations with the US, but there is little chance it can happen any time soon with Moscow being dragged into internal American political strife, the Russian Foreign Minister has said.

In an interview to the Russian ‘Argumenty i Fakty’ weekly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said he isn’t holding out much hope that the US-Russian relations will get back on track before the next US presidential elections. Too many American politicians are exploiting anti-Russian sentiment to whip up their voters, he believes.

“Many US politicians are trying to outdo each other in fueling Russophobia, using this factor in their internal political struggle. We understand that it will only get more heated as the 2020 election inches closer,” Lavrov said, adding that Russia will nonetheless keep seeking common ground with the US – but Washington has to reciprocate if things are to get better.

“Cooperation between us is the key moment in ensuring stability and predictability in the international affairs – but not everything depends on us: it takes two to tango.”

Lavrov has refused to speculate as to when the retaliations might improve, referring to the “inconsistent and often unpredictable” policies coming from Washington. He reiterated, however, that Russia is ready “to patiently work to fix them” provided the US respects core Russian interests.

Not aiding the reconciliation cause is the ongoing “hunt” for Russian citizens abroad. Lavrov said Moscow is not afraid to retaliate to when Russian nationals get arrested in third countries and extradited to the US – but will do so in accordance with international law, not its rival’s “gangster-like” habits.

Lavrov believes the flare-up in tensions in the Middle East is the “direct consequence of Washington’s and some of its allies’ anti-Iranian line.”

“The US is flexing its muscles, it has launched a campaign to discredit Iran, have accused the Islamic Republic of all the sins,” Lavrov said, adding that it would now “take only one match” to set the whole region on fire, with potentially devastating consequences.

“The responsibility for the potentially catastrophic consequences would be on the US,” he said.

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