MOSCOW (AP) — Moscow has "no illusions" about a quick thaw under President Donald Trump, but is ready to take its share of efforts needed to improve the strained ties with the United States, Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday.
Sergey Lavrov acknowledged that "time and serious work will be needed to repair the heavy damage inflicted to Russia-U.S. cooperation under Barack Obama."
"We have no illusions that there will be a new reset with the U.S., we don't have any naive expectations," Lavrov said in parliament. "We know that Trump is considered a master of the deal but Vladimir Putin knows how to make deals, too, in the interests of Russia."
"Reset" was the term that Obama's administration coined in 2009 to describe a drive for repairing ties with Russia. After a brief period of warmer ties, tensions flared up again and ties eventually plunged to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.
Trump's victory has heartened Russian political elites, who have greeted his promises to mend ties with Moscow. The Kremlin has been careful, however, warning that rebuilding ravaged ties will take time.
Lavrov said that Moscow and Washington could find a way to cooperate while protecting national interests with "decency and predictability."
He voiced hope that, unlike the Obama administration, Trump would refrain from "meddling into affairs of other countries."
Lavrov also called for improving Russia's ties with the European Union, which he said are in a "deplorable" state now because of the past U.S. administration's efforts.
The EU has followed the U.S. in slapping Moscow with economic sanctions over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for a pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
"We are seeing that there is a growing demand in EU business and social circles for normalizing relations with Russia," Lavrov said, expressing hope that Brussels will stop following demands of a "small but aggressive group of Russophobes."
Lavrov also rejected the allegations by some politicians and media in the West that Moscow is interested in weakening and splitting the EU.
"We never have been interested in the EU breakup," Lavrov said. "We want the EU to be strong, united and independent."