>> Russian President Vladimir Putin took this freezing plunge on Friday, to mark the Orthodox Christian Feasts of Epiphany. It's probably preferable to the current chill in Washington. It wasn't supposed to be like this. President Donald Trump campaigned on talk of mending ties. Election night brought cheers from Russia's parliament.
Now, a year after entering the Oval Office, has been the most fragile since the Cold War. Reuters Andrew Osborne, in Moscow.>> So for Russia, really, the turning point came in July because that was when the US Congress overwhelmingly voted to approve a package of new sanctions. That was, of course, a response to these allegations that Russia had meddled in the election.
Trump reluctantly signed those same sanctions into law soon afterwards, and of course Putin responded by saying that he wanted half of all of the staff at the US embassy here in Moscow to leave. And that really was the moment when I think people here in Moscow understood what we had these high hopes that Trump could really deliver something.
But this really means that that's just not going to happen.>> Russian officials say they think Trump was sincere in his hope to heal the relationship, but is hamstrung by his political opponents at home. Now, they say it's worse than under the Obama administration. Contact between senior officials is nearly non-existent.
Trump threw the latest punch on Wednesday when he told Reuters that Moscow was helping North Korea evade sanctions.>> And surprisingly, and this frankly would've been unimaginable one year ago, some Russians here are actually saying that, you know what, it would've been better if Hillary Clinton had won the American presidency.
Clinton has long been portrayed as a rabidly anti-Russian politician here in Moscow. But the way things have gone, people here are beginning to wonder. At least with Clinton, we probably wouldn't have had all these Russia investigations, they say. And things would not, ironically, have been as bad as they've turned out to be with Donald Trump.
>> Russia's always denied attempting to influence the election. The US Special Investigation into alleged collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign is ongoing