The Kremlin has expressed a measure of hope for an improvement in relations with the United States following President Donald Trump's nomination of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, saying bilateral ties cannot get much worse.
"It's hardly possible to fall below the floor, so it is unlikely things will get any worse in this regard," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on March 14.
He spoke a day after Trump announced the dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and nominated Pompeo, now the CIA director, to take his place.
Peskov called for a "constructive and sober approach in joint relations" under Pompeo, adding: "This hope will always remain."
Pompeo faces Senate confirmation hearings where he is expected to be asked about his approach toward Russia.
Bilateral relations have worsened in recent years over Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the war in Syria, Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and other issues.
In his farewell remarks, Tillerson said Washington must do more to respond to Russia's "troubling behavior and actions."
"Russia must assess carefully as to how its actions are in the best interests of the Russian people and of the world more broadly," Tillerson said. "Continuing on their current trajectory is likely to lead to greater isolation on their part, a situation which is not in anyone's interest."
His dismissal came a day after he sharply criticized Russia in the wake of the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain, which Prime Minister Theresa May said was "highly likely" to have been carried out by Russia.