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U.S.-Russia communication channels nearly 'frozen,' Kremlin says

By
Allen Cone
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands for the cameras before the start of a bilateral meeting at the United Nations in New York City in 2015. The Kremlin said Wednesday nearly all communication channels between the U.S. and Russia are frozen. File Pool Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands for the cameras before the start of a bilateral meeting at the United Nations in New York City in 2015. The Kremlin said Wednesday nearly all communication channels between the U.S. and Russia are frozen. File Pool Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI | License Photo

MOSCOW, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Most communications channels between the United States and Russia are "frozen," Russia state media reported Wednesday.

"With the United States, nearly all levels of dialogue are in a frozen state. We do not communicate with each other or do it minimally," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the television channel MIR.

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The cold relations are linked to sanctions imposed after Russia seized Crimea and launched a covert war in eastern Ukraine – and CIA and FBI findings that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the hacking of emails relating to Hillary Clinton during the U.S. presidential election.

"Unfortunately, our bilateral relations are now accompanied by an extreme degree of distrust and these relations are in quite deplorable state," Peskov told journalists Wednesday.

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Russia has denied it is behind the hacking.

"Each time, unfortunately, we could not get some more or less reasonable substantiation of these accusations, some specific facts or something else," Peskov said. "And, that is why, of course, all these accusations are completely unfounded and are not backed by any arguments."

Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin regrets the United States' expanded sanctions related to events in the Ukraine and Crimea.

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"We can only once again express regret and misunderstanding over this destructive persistence of our U.S. colleagues," Peskov said.

In 2014, the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

Some Russian officials were barred from entering EU countries and the United States. Also, their assets were frozen, and trade, financial and military restrictions imposed.

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On Tuesday, President Barack Obama added sanctions against companies and individuals linked to the Crimea reunification.

The United States said these sanctions are not a response to the cyberattacks.

Peskov also said he did not know whether Putin would seek re-election in 2018.

"Everyone's heads are aching because of work and with projects and nobody is thinking or talking about elections," Peskov said.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who's called Putin a better leader than Obama, has said he may consider recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and lifting the curbs.

Regarding the sanctions, Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus told MSNBC's Morning Joe last week to "just wait and see" but that sanctions, if they are in place, need to be enforced.

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