Sergei Lavrov and Rex Tillerson at a meeting in Moscow. Pic/AFP
Moscow: President Vladimir Putin said ties between Russia and the United States appear to have deteriorated under Donald Trump, in an interview released yesterday. "You can say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military side, has not improved but most likely worsened," Putin said.
The comments came out as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov held tense talks following an alleged Syrian chemical attack and subsequent missile strike by Washington.
Putin has angrily rejected the accusations against Damascus and slammed the US bombing as "a violation of international law".
Washington has said it is hoping to pry Russia away from its support for Assad, but the Kremlin today decried any calls to drop the Syrian leader as "pretty absurd".
Prior to Tillerson's arrival, hopes in Moscow had already dimmed that Trump would make good on his pledge to improve ties with Russia, as relations with the Kremlin have become politically toxic on the back of claims that Putin conspired to get Trump elected.
Tillerson gets chilly reception in Mosow
Russia's top diplomat accused the US of carrying out an unlawful attack against Assad's forces as he opened a fraught meeting with the visiting Tillerson. Later, Tillerson met with Putin, which was also a tense interaction.