“Volker was always a difficult negotiator for Russia,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, the founder of R. Politik, a political analysis firm based in Paris.
She said that Russia saw Volker as always taking Ukraine’s side and “therefore always resistant to every Russian idea.”
Improving bilateral relations with the U.S. is important to the Kremlin. Over the last three years, diplomats from both countries have been expelled in a tit-for-tat battle between Washington and Moscow.
Despite the Kremlin’s insistence that Western sanctions have not hurt the country, Russia’s economic growth has been less than 2% a year. Putin’s approval ratings have decreased as inflation has risen and real incomes have declined.
The impeachment scandal is “the weakening of Trump,” and that does not benefit Putin, Stanovaya said. For Putin, Trump is a barrier between Russia and what the Kremlin sees as anti-Russia elites in American politics, she said. “Putin would like to deal with a Trump who has a strong position with these American political elites,” she said. “It’s like a kind of protection against all the anti-Russian sentiments.”