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  1. ITV Report

The recent history of US-Russia relations

Donald Trump says relations are at an 'all time low'. Credit: AP
  • By Marcus Chippindale, ITV News Digital Producer

Donald Trump has described US relations with Russia as being at an "all time low" following an American airstrike on a Syrian airbase.

The strike was mounted in response to an alleged chemical attack on a Syrian village, but the move has been condemned by Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Here, we look at the recent history of relations between the United States and Russia.

  • The Cold War

After the Second World War, tensions escalated between the two countries as the US sought to prevent Soviet expansionism.

The nations never engaged in direct conflict, but did take part in a series of proxy wars, including in Vietnam and Korea.

Both sides amassed a nuclear arsenal of such a size it discouraged either from launching a direct attack on the other due to the idea of mutually assured destruction.

John F. Kennedy (right) was president during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Credit: AP

Many consider the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis to be the closest the US and the USSR came to direct conflict, sparked by both sides deploying missiles near the other's borders.

Relations improved under Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and communist regimes began to fall in the 1980s.

Gorbachev and Bush meet in 1989. Credit: PA

At a summit in Malta in December 1989, just weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mr Gorbachev and US President George H.W. Bush declared an end to the Cold War.

Two years later, the Soviet Union dissolved.

  • Tensions between Bush and Putin

After years of generally warm relations between Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton, there were fresh disagreements after Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush came to power at the start of the millennium.

Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush did not always see eye-to-eye. Credit: AP

Mr Putin wanted Russia to be more assertive on the world stage, while Mr Bush's leadership saw the US act alone internationally more often, particularly after the 9/11 attacks.

The Russian leader opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and blamed America for inciting unrest in the Baltic region, but the main flash point surrounded US plans to build a missile defence system in Poland in 2007, prompting threats of retaliatory action.

  • 'Reset' under Obama
Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2009. Credit: AP

When Barack Obama was elected and met then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2009, the pair said they wanted to make a "fresh start" on relations.

The move saw an apparent improvement in links between the US and Russia and in 2010 they agreed to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

  • Putin and Obama clash
Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin did not have a close relationship. Credit: AP

In 2011, Mr Putin accused the US of interfering in Russian elections and things deteriorated once he returned as president in 2012.

There were a number of clashes, including over Russia's decision to give asylum to whistleblower Edward Snowden and the annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea by Russia in 2014.

President Obama and the West were also highly critical of Mr Putin's support for Assad's regime in Syria.

  • 2016 election and Trump in office

The US accused Russia of carrying out cyber attacks during the 2016 presidential election campaign, something which is still being investigated and which prompted Mr Obama to expel 35 Russian officials from America.

Mr Trump's election as president prompted suggestions that there would be closer ties between the two nations, given his seemingly warmer stance towards Mr Putin and Russia.

However, these hopes appear to have vanished following the latest tensions over Syria.

Doctors treating a child following a suspected chemical attack in Syria.