Newly minted U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said Friday that America’s relationship with the Kremlin is ‘at an all-time low.’
Russian President Vladimir Putin expelled 755 American diplomatic staffers from Russia in late July.
That move was a response to new U.S. sanctions leveled against his government as a consequence of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
In response, the US suspended issuing non-immigrant visas in Moscow for a week in August and stopped issuing visas at its consulates elsewhere in Russia.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said Friday that America’s relationship with the Kremlin is ‘at an all-time low’
‘We all know that we’re facing difficult times – probably the most difficult period in the relationship since the end of the Cold War,’ Huntsman said in a ‘Fox & Friends’ interview conducted by his daughter Abby
‘It’s really unfortunate that the Russians made the decision that they did, to cut – substantially cut – our diplomatic presence in Russia,’ Huntsman said on ‘Fox & Friends.’
‘We all know that we’re facing difficult times – probably the most difficult period in the relationship since the end of the Cold War,’ he said.
‘This is a little bit like 1986 all over again, where we went through the same kind of tit-for-tat which serves really no purpose at all.’
Huntsman said that Moscow and Washington ‘have been hand in hand on the same team in wars in history.’
‘We found ourselves on the same page of certain issues before, but today the relationships are at all-time low.’
Huntsman presented his diplomatic credentials to President Vladimir Putin (right) at a ceremony Tuesday in the Kremlin
Huntsman said he will dedicate himself to repairing the diplomatic ties between Putin’s government and Trump’s.
‘The last thing I want to tell the president, or the secretary of state, or secretary of defense in the months and years ahead,’ he said, is: “We did our very best sir, but we didn’t get anywhere”.’
‘I think the taxpayers expect more than that.’
Huntsman presented his diplomatic credentials on Tuesday to Putin, who complained about the strained relationship.
‘The current level of the ties cannot satisfy us,’ Putin said.
‘We stand for constructive, predictable and mutually beneficial cooperation.’
Putin also said both the U.S. and Russia should not meddle in each other’s ‘domestic affairs.’
Huntsman, the former Utah governor who once called for Donald Trump to drop out of the presidential race, won easy confirmation as US ambassador last week.
He was the nation’s top diplomat to Singapore under President George HW Bush and ambassador to China under President Barack Obama before returning to the US to run for president in 2012.
Huntsman had an up-and-down relationship with Trump during last year’s campaign.
The former governor was slow to endorse any candidate for the Republican nomination, though he did back Trump once he became the presumptive nominee.
But Huntsman then called for Trump to drop out of the presidential race after the release of a 2005 audio in which Trump was captured on a microphone making lewd comments about women.
Although Trump has called Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election a hoax pushed by Democrats to sully his victory at the polls, Huntsman said at his confirmation hearing last week that ‘there is no question, underline, no question’ that Moscow interfered.
He also said he would not hesitate to remind Russian officials that they are accountable for their actions.
Relations between Russia and the United States cooled following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting since 2014 has left 10,000 people dead.