US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had a telephonic conversation at Kremlin’s initiative, said the White House on December 30. The reason for the call, cited by both sides, was to thank Trump for information sent through special services that helped thwart terrorist acts in Russia.
“The two presidents discussed a range of issues of mutual interest and agreed to continue bilateral cooperation in combating terrorism,” said Kremlin in a statement.
White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley also confirmed that the information provided by the United States helped foil a potential holiday terrorist attack, reportedly planned in St. Petersburg. Gidley further added that both President discussed the state of relations between the United States and Russia and future efforts to support effective arms control.
US and Russia have been going through tensed relationship and recent developments have compounded the problems. On December 26, Trump accused Russia, Syria, and Iran of killing thousands of innocent civilians in Idlib Province. “Don’t do it! Turkey is working hard to stop this carnage,” he tweeted. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has documented the death of civilians in and around Idlib and the regime forces, with the help of Russian warplanes, intensified the attack.
On December 17, the US Senate approved a defence bill to impose sanctions on Russian companies working on the ambitious project of Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) covers a broad range of defence policy and military spending. Russia asserted that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea will be completed despite sanctions since it is already in its last phase.
Nord Stream-2 is one of the two Russian projects in Europe to supply gas to Germany and expected to start in mid-2020. It is considered as a key part project to deliver gas to Europe via Baltic. The two Russian pipelines are expected to start soon to increase its supply to European countries which will bolster Russia’s position strategically.