MOSCOW — The firebrand host of Russia’s main weekly news program, Dmitri K. Kiselyov, praised Donald J. Trump just after he was elected as an “independent character, unready to be duped by the Pentagon and American special services.”
The romance did not last long. On Sunday, Mr. Kiselyov said on the same program that the American cruise missile attack last week on a Syrian air base confirmed that President Trump has “no experience in international politics,” adding, “Only neophytes of international politics can act like this, who have neither victories nor defeats behind their back.”
The Russian expert Yevgeny Satanovsky, who was featured on the program, called Mr. Trump “a man of emotions who has a thinking problem.”
In its Monday cover article, which carried the single-word headline “Aggression,” The Rossiskaya Gazeta, Russia’s official government newspaper, accused Mr. Trump of using human peril in Syria to promote his own political interest and of being “indifferent to facts and laws.”
The last time the official Russian news media used such language, President Barack Obama occupied the White House.
The shift in attitude toward Mr. Trump comes on the eve of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s first official visit to Moscow.
Over the weekend, Mr. Tillerson was critical of Russia’s handling of the Syria crisis, indicating that he would not accept easy compromises during a meeting Wednesday with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov.
In Moscow, analysts said that both Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had been carrying the burden of what is widely portrayed in the news media as a special, and friendly, relationship. The American attack in Syria has increasingly freed both men from that perception and offers both sides the opportunity to take the gloves off.
“The hope for a privileged relationship demanded big gestures and compromises, special restraint and complaisance of the tango partners,” Aleksandr Baunov wrote in an opinion piece on the analytical website Carnegie.ru, of which he is editor. “Now none of it is necessary, and the partner can fearlessly step on the other’s toes.”
But will they?
The newfound freedom could also benefit both parties as Russian policy makers, clearly surprised that Mr. Trump ordered the cruise missile attack, will probably demand to know if the move was part of some larger change in United States policy toward Russia or just a one-off warning to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria not to launch another chemical attack on his country’s residents.
“I have a feeling that both Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Tillerson understand the situation well and, while the U.S. had to react to the chemical weapons attack, nobody wants to escalate this situation further,” said Aleksei V. Malashenko, head of research at the Dialogue of Civilizations, a think tank. “I think despite the heated atmosphere, they will try to achieve positive results.”
Ever since Mr. Trump was elected, the Kremlin has hoped that joint action against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria will be a positive starting point for future cooperation between Russia and the United States over the fate of Syria and beyond.
However, the American cruise missile strike at minimum delays those plans, and leaves the United States and Russia with few points of agreement to build on at Wednesday’s meeting between Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Lavrov in Moscow. It also seems to have put Russia more firmly in the Assad camp.
In the event that Russia wants to lessen the rift with the United States, it would have to distance itself to some degree from Mr. Assad, the Kremlin’s key ally in the Middle East and outside the post-Soviet world.
“This would involve joint investigation of the chemical weapons attack, or the support of an international investigation and complete destruction of all chemical weapons,” said Vladimir Frolov, a foreign affairs analyst and columnist for Republic.ru.
“A new complete cease-fire and the return to the Geneva agreement would then create a basis for a joint military center that would coordinate operations against the Islamic State and mutual actions in Raqqa.”
The Kremlin has already signaled a certain degree of distance from Mr. Assad.
Speaking with The Associated Press last week, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said: “It is not correct to say that Moscow can convince Mr. Assad to do whatever is wanted in Moscow. This is totally wrong.”
Aleksandr Shumilin, head of the Center for Research of Middle Eastern Conflicts, said Mr. Putin was interested in weakening Russia’s dependence on Mr. Assad and did not want to feel responsible for all of his actions.
“The problem is that Russia cannot afford to distance itself in public, as Mr. Assad has already become a hero of the Russian television,” Mr. Shumilin said. “Therefore, on the surface the rhetoric will remain the same, but deep inside there will be efforts to establish some kind of a cooperation and mutual understanding.”
“They will try to calm the situation down,” he added.