The Kremlin's chief spokeswoman has downplayed the prospects for improving U.S.-Russian relations following meetings by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Washington, D.C.
Dmitry Peskov's comments, made in an interview on state-run TV on December 15, followed Lavrov's closely watched trip to the United States five days earlier.
Lavrov held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and was granted an Oval Office meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump as well.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have spiraled downwards over election interference allegations, as well as other issues like the wars in Ukraine and Syria, and disputes over nuclear arms treaties.
The White House and other U.S. officials said Trump and Pompeo had warned Lavrov against Russian interference in U.S. elections -- something U.S. intelligence concluded occurred in 2016.
Lavrov later contradicted Pompeo, asserting that discussions about election interference had not come up in his meetings.
Peskov said the fact that Trump met with Lavrov was a positive thing.
"But, in terms of bilateral relations, they are in such a profound crisis that even an important visit by such a heavyweight minister as Lavrov cannot change the trend оr change the sign from minus to plus," Peskov said. “I don’t think there are grounds for any optimism."
"Of course, Trump and Putin did have a number of very positive conversations, with very positive and good things said," he said. "The conversations were very warm but the reality is our bilateral relations are harsh and cold."