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As Russia fumes at U.S. 'meddling,' post-Soviet relations turn sour

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By The Associated Press
Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 9:16 p.m.

MOSCOW — What happened to the “reset”?

U.S.-Russian ties have again plunged into acrimony amid disputes ranging from disagreement on Syria to Russian President Vladimir Putin's clampdown on dissent.

A U.S. bill intended to lift Cold War-era trade restrictions but containing sanctions against Russian officials accused of rights abuses has become the latest flash point, with Moscow venting its outrage and threatening a quid pro quo.

While U.S.-Russian ties have not yet plunged to the lows seen during George W. Bush's presidency, a senior Russian lawmaker warned on Friday that the legislation approved by the Senate could be a prologue to an even deeper crisis.

Alexei Pushkov, the Kremlin-connected head of the Foreign Affairs committee in the lower house of Russia's parliament, said that Moscow was particularly annoyed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's pledge this week to oppose Russia's efforts to create alliances of post-Soviet nations as an attempt to “re-Sovietize the region.”

“If the U.S. administration wants to have a kind of geopolitical contest with the Russian Federation on the post-Soviet space, I think that the (trade) law will be just the first step in a new crisis, and a serious crisis between Moscow and Washington,” Pushkov said.

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