Michael Flynn. Picture: REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR
Michael Flynn. Picture: REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR

Moscow — Russian legislators reacted with dismay and anger to US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation, calling it a sign that President Donald Trump’s White House was driven by the same "paranoia" towards the Kremlin as previous presidencies.

Flynn’s removal over contacts with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak showed that the administration was either not independent or suffered from Russophobia, Konstantin Kosachyov, a member of the governing party and chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the upper house of the Russian parliament, wrote on Tuesday on Facebook.

US hawks treated a readiness for dialogue with Russia as a "thought crime", he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment, telling reporters on Tuesday that Flynn’s departure was an "internal matter" for the US.

Reports that Flynn and Kislyak discussed US sanctions against Russia late in 2016 were not true, Peskov said on Friday.

Flynn said in his resignation letter that he had given "incomplete information regarding my phone calls" with Kislyak, after US Vice-President Mike Pence publicly denied sanctions had been discussed.

The resignation adds to doubts about Trump among Russian officials after initial euphoria that his presidency would herald a new era in ties with the US after years of confrontation with Barack Obama.

Trump’s relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin are being watched closely amid allegations from US intelligence agencies that the Kremlin interfered in November’s elections to help him win.

The two leaders have yet to agree on a date for their first meeting, however, and the US has not tempered criticism or eased sanctions over Russia’s role in the conflict in Ukraine.

Victim of Hysteria 

While Trump had yet to announce a clear Russia policy, "it may have been easier with Flynn in that position" to find common ground, Fyodor Lukyanov, head of a Kremlin foreign policy advisory board, said on Tuesday. Flynn’s focus on fighting Islamist extremism "could have helped Russia-US co-operation", he said.

Flynn was a victim of his own mistakes and "anti-Russian hysteria" in Washington, said Oleg Morozov, a former senior Kremlin official who now serves on the foreign affairs committee in the upper house.

While Russia was ready for dialogue in response to Trump’s "positive signals", it was under no illusions that improving relations "is a very difficult road", he said.

Bloomberg

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