Relations between Russia and the United States are at an “all-time low”, according to US President Donald Trump.
Mr Trump voiced caution on Wednesday of his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he would wait and see about future ties with Moscow.
Mr Trump said the US is “not getting along with Russia at all” amid rising tensions between the two global powers over Syria.
“We may be at an all-time low in terms of our relationship with Russia,” he said.
And Vladimir Putin agrees.
He says relations between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated in the early months of Donald Trump’s presidency.
“It can be said that the level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded,” Putin said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday by state television channel Mir.
Putin also asserted that Syria has complied with an agreement to dispose of chemical weapons “so far as we know”.
However, Mr Trump said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s meetings in Moscow this week, which included a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, went better than expected.
In a White House press conference with NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, Mr Trump defended the decision to bomb a Syrian airfield after a chemical attack on civilians, stating Russia “could have known” about the attack and chose not to stop it.
The president said it was “disappointing” to see “vicious and violent” images of children dying, “fathers holding children in their arms that were dead, dead children. It shouldn’t be allowed. That’s a butcher. We had to do something about it. I believe it was the right thing.”
The comments came after Mr Tillerson met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and later President Putin, reiterating the US position that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must eventually relinquish power in Syria.
Mr Tillerson opened the tense three-hour meeting with Mr Lavrov by saying he aims to clear up the two nations’ “sharp differences”.
The secretary of state echoed his president’s statement, saying “there is a low level of trust between our two countries.”
Mr Lavrov said on Wednesday Russia had lots of questions about the “very ambiguous” and “contradictory” ideas coming from the US.
He said through a translator it was important for Russia to understand the “real intentions” of the Trump administration.
“I won’t hide the fact that we have a lot of questions, taking into account the extremely ambiguous and sometimes contradictory ideas which have been expressed in Washington across the whole spectrum of bilateral and multilateral affairs,” Mr Lavrov said.
“And of course, that’s not to mention that apart from the statements, we observed very recently the extremely worrying actions, when an illegal attack against Syria was undertaken.”
“The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship,” he said.
Prior to his talks with Mr Tillerson, President Putin said on Russia television relations between the two super powers have “deteriorated” under the Trump government.
“One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated,” he said.
Despite recent tensions, Mr Trump said it would be “fantastic” if the US and Russia could have better relations.
“It would be a fantastic thing if we got along with Putin and if we got along with Russia,” Mr Trump said.
“And that could happen, and it may not happen, and it may be just the opposite. I can only tell you what I would like to do. I would love to be able to get along with everybody.
“Right now, the world is a mess, but I think by the time we finish, I think it’s going to be a lot better place to live.”
– with agencies