U.S. officials says Russia tried to hack election systems in 21 states and to sway the election for Trump, a level of interference in the U.S. political system that security experts say represents a toplevel threat that should command a forceful response from the U.S. Putin has denied it.
There are no indications Trump plans to raise Russia’s meddling. Yet if he doesn’t, it will give fuel to Trump’s critics who say he’s blatantly ignoring a major national security threat. It could also embolden those who say he is trying to cover for the Russians after benefiting from their interference.
Russia’s wish list: Russia has been especially vocal about its chief demand: the return of two properties it owns in the U.S. that were seized by the Obama administration as punishment for Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The compounds are located in New York and Maryland.
On Monday, Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said Russia had been restrained by declining to retaliate but that its patience was running out. If the U.S. doesn’t give back the compounds, Moscow will have no choice but to retaliate, Ushakov said. Russian also wants the U.S. to ease surveillance of its diplomats.
U.S. demands: The U.S. has its own list, topped by a resumption of adoptions of Russian children by American parents which Russia banned in late 2012, an end to what it says is intensifying harassment of U.S. diplomats and other officials in Russia and a resolution to a dispute over a piece of land in St. Petersburg that was meant to be the site of a new U.S. consulate in Russia’s second-largest city. Moscow has long sought an easing of economic sanctions the U.S. slapped on Russia over its actions in eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, which the U.S. does not recognize.
Congress has been pushing to increase sanctions on Russia and make them harder for Trump to lift. The Senate has passed the popular measure, which won’t go to a House vote before the meeting.
Syria: Eager to bolster his global legitimacy, Putin has been pressing the U.S. to cooperate militarily with Russia in Syria, where both Moscow and Washington oppose the Islamic State group but disagree about Syrian President Bashar Assad. Though defense laws passed in the wake of the Ukraine crisis bar the U.S. military from cooperating with Russia, the two have maintained a “deconfliction” hotline to ensure their forces don’t accidentally collide on the Syrian battlefield.
The Pentagon has resisted proposals to work with Russia in Syria, out of concern the U.S. can’t trust Moscow with sensitive intelligence information.