Ketchum has turned to Alston & Bird for Washington help on its key Russian Federation work as U.S. and Russian ties come under increasing strain.

A&B is to receive a $20K monthly fee from effective Feb. 1 through Oct. 31. The agreement will be reviewed during October “with the objective of extending the advisory relationship into the future,” according to A&B’s engagement letter to the Omnicom unit.

A&B is to gather information and provide advice and analysis on various areas of U.S. foreign and economic policy including trade, energy and politico-military issues that affect U.S./Russia ties. It will also monitor and report on legislative developments on Capitol Hill.

Robert Jones, leader of A&B’s legislative & public policy group, leads his firm’s effort. He’s a veteran of Patton & Boggs and ex-counsel to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

U.S. and Russia relations have soured since the return to power of strongman Vladimir Putin last March.

On Jan. 25, the U.S. quit the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission that had been established under President Obama’s “reset” policy to foster civil ties between the two nations.

That decision followed Russia’s move to ban adoptions of its children by American parents.