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U.S.-Russia relationship ‘deplorable,’ ambassador says

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Relations between Russia and the United States are at their lowest point since the Cold War, and it won’t be an easy fix, according to Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

Speaking to the Detroit Economic Club on Thursday, Kislyak said politicians and civilians from both countries are leering at one another, and the two nations need to find common ground to rebuild on.

The Russian-American climate is “unneeded” and “unwarranted,” he said, and the lost trust between the nations is “deplorable.”

But U.S. leaders will find open doors in Russia when they’re ready to mend the relationship, he said.

The countries can begin the mend by working together to defeat the Islamic State in Syria.

“We need to focus on things that matter,” Kislyak said after he delivered his speech. “On Syria, I’m still hopeful...the enemy there is coming to us and to you, and we have a experience of dealing with some very difficult issues together and succeeding.”

ISIS “has to be exterminated,” he said. “There is no other solution.”

But relations are fragile due to false narratives and actions taken by Russia in Ukraine, Syria that the U.S. misunderstood, and also due to Russia harboring Edward Snowden, who currently resides in Russia under political asylum while he’s sought for leaking U.S. government surveillance practices.

The United States needs to understand it is not the only “exceptional” nation, Kislyak said.

“The world is changing,” he said. “The United States certainly has always throught that you are exceptional, you are entitled to lead the others, you...elect not only the President of the United States but also the leader of the free world.

“We have our own president, and we are also exceptional...the difference being we don't impose our exceptions on others.”

According to Kislyak, the ball is in the U.S.’s court.

“We still keep all the doors open,” he said. “We are not going to solicit partnership, but whenever the United States is willing and ready to work with us, the will find a willing partner on our side.”

Kislyak also spoke on trade and economic relations with the U.S., which he said are underdeveloped. He pointed to Ford Motor Company as an example of American business seeing success in Russia.

Ford on Thursday said they’re seeing positive signs in Russia. Kislyak said Russia does not “plan to punish businesses by sanctioning them...American business that has come to Russia and stays in Russia is very welcome.”

He declined to comment on the current U.S. presidential race, other than to say the “way Russia has become a factor in your election is unexpected, unneeded and...it isn't helping Russian-American relations. We have become kind of collateral damage between the two parties here...

Russia is ready to work with whichever candidate is elected on Nov. 8, he said.

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2359

Twitter: Ian_Thibodeau