The Russian ambassador to the United States said any use of American military force against war-wracked Syria could carry serious consequences and hoped such an outcome would not ruin already tense relations.
While things are difficult between Washington and Moscow, Sergey Kislyak said in Washington that ties have not plunged to Cold War depths – yet.
“They’re not in good shape,” Kislyak said at an appearance in Washington for the Center for the National Interest.
Kislyak said the two have “honest disagreements,” and said he has heard “notes of dismay” that the relationship is heading back to decades when Russia and the United States were the bitterest of Cold War adversaries.
“Certainly it’s serious issue as to where our relations are,” he said, noting that the Obama administration’s proposal for using force against Syria, a Russian ally, is a problem.
“Currently, we see that the United States has decided to decide everything on their own and we are invited to accept the judgments of the United States based on a statement by the U.S. government assessing the situation,” Kislyak said.
“We are watching very closely what our American colleagues are going to do. Because the consequences of any improper step, with the use of force especially, can be very high,” he added.
Kislyak said he hopes Russian-American relations won’t be “ruined, but we certainly will watch very closely how things are going to develop.”
Russian officials in Washington unsuccessfully sought a meeting with congressional leaders to lobby them against calls to punish Syria for alleged chemical weapons use.
Lawmakers are considering Obama’s call to authorize a limited military strike to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad, whose forces have been battling rebels in a civil war for more than two years.
President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, held what each described Friday as a "constructive" talk about Syria.
Obama described the brief exchange on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Russia as "candid, constructive" - but acknowledged that Putin was unlikely to support his call for military action against Syria.
Putin gave reporters a similar account, adding, "He doesn't agree with me, I don't agree with him, but we listened to each other."