The head of a top Russian bank says investigations into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials will make it harder for the American president to deal with Moscow.
“I think [the investigations] will be a problem for the Trump administration to deal with Russia, and that’s very unfortunate because we have extremely important issues to decide,” Andrey Kostin, chairman and CEO of VTB Bank, told CNNMoney on Thursday.
Kostin said that cooperation on terrorism and the conflict in Syria could suffer as a result.
The banker said he will “wait and see” if Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin can “give a start to some kind of a new relationship.”
The alternative, he said, is to “wait until the end of these investigations — maybe two or three years.”
VTB Bank has been stung by Western sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine. The state-controlled bank has largely been denied access to global capital markets as a result.
Russian stock markets rallied after Trump’s election victory in November because of expectations he would seek a warmer relationship with Moscow. The country’s RTS index soared 52% in dollar terms in 2016.
But Russia’s high hopes for the Trump presidency have evaporated since the spotlight turned on the country’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Investigators are also probing whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
During the campaign, Trump indicated that trade restrictions imposed on Russia could be eased in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal. However, four months into his presidency, the sanctions are still intact.
Kostin said that Putin himself never had “very high expectations” for a thaw in relations.
“In my personal observations, and from talking with [Putin], he was saying it could be better it could be worse, let’s wait and see,” Kostin told CNNMoney.
Putin separately addressed his relationship with Trump on Thursday, saying the two “don’t know each other” and have “never met.”
“He is a straight forward, sincere man,” Putin said of Trump. “You can’t really classify him as a traditional politician, he never worked in politics. Therefore this is a person with a fresh view of things.”