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'US factor' puts Russia back in focus

By REN QI/PAN MENGQI | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-31 09:28

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe pauses while testifying before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in Washington, June 7, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe stepped down on Monday, ahead of his planned retirement in March amid tensions with US President Donald Trump over his alleged ties with Russia, media reported.

The US House Intelligence Committee voted on the same day in favor of releasing a memo by Republican Representative Devin Nunes that allegedly shows how the FBI abused its powers and demonstrated bias during its investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The memo purports to show that the FBI has a clear anti-Trump bias, Bloomberg reported. When the US Justice Department urged lawmakers last week not to release the information while Trump was in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, the president fumed in anger. Experts hold different views about whether the incidents will affect the Russian presidential election in March and future Russian-US relations.

Yang Cheng, professor of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Shanghai International Studies University, said they will surely have an indirect impact on Russia's election, scheduled for March.

Yang said US media reported that US intelligence already collected information and may release it during the vote.

"I think the US factor could also become an external variable in the Russian election," Yang said.

Chen Yu, however, said the incidents related to Russia will not affect polling.

"Putin's current domestic position is solid, with more than 60 percent of voters showing willingness to vote for him," the researcher of Russian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations said. For the future trend of Russian-US relations, Chen said their current ties are already "at the bottom" and there is little room for going down further.

"So I think that changes (in the US) will mainly affect the internal affairs of the United States," Chen said. "It will have a limited impact on the relations between the two and is unlikely to affect the upcoming election results."

Chen said if Putin is re-elected, he is expected to continue to boost the economy as his main job.

But Yang disagreed. He said the Russian presidential election cannot help improve relations between the two countries.

Yang said: "Unlike the Cold War time, when the US and Russia have shown different positions only on regional and international issues, the current relationship has more fixed conflicts, not to mention the US Congress passing legislation on limiting Trump's authority to adjust his Russia's policy last year."

The Russian government expects to reach agreements with the US on some issues, but the US' domestic politics may deter the two countries collaborating with each other, Yang said.

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