Kremlin cancels Friday talks with U.S. over new sanctions

"If the Russians seek an end to these sanctions, they know very well the U.S. position," a State Department spokesperson said Wednesday.
By Doug G. Ware  |  June 21, 2017 at 3:49 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter
| License Photo

June 21 (UPI) -- The Russian government has canceled a round of diplomatic talks with the United States, scheduled for Friday, due to new economic sanctions leveled by the U.S. Treasury this week.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov were set to meet in St. Petersburg on Friday to discuss a range of issues intended to improve relations. New sanctions issued Tuesday, however, have thrown a wrench in that plan.

"There were plans for the next few days to continue bilateral consultations on 'irritants' in the Russian-U.S. relations, to find ways out of the extremely difficult situation to which the U.S. side has driven partnership and cooperation with Russia," Ryabkov said in a statement. "After yesterday's decision on sanctions, the situation does not suggest holding a round of such a dialogue, especially as there is no content for it."

The new sanctions Tuesday by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control target more than three dozen Russian and pro-Russian individuals and entities involved in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine -- including Russian Deputy Economy Minister Sergey Nazarov and Kremlin lawmaker Alexander Babakov. Shannon and Ryabkov met last month in New York City.

The Department of State on Wednesday expressed disappointment in the Kremlin's decision to halt the scheduled diplomacy, which was supposed to mark continuing improvement of U.S.-Russian relations under President Donald Trump.

"We regret that Russia has decided to turn away from an opportunity to discuss bilateral obstacles that hinder U.S.-Russia relations," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Friday's event was supposed to be a follow-up to meetings in April and May involving Shannon, Ryabkov, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Kremlin Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"The maintenance package of sanctions issued yesterday by the Treasury Department, which only reinforced existing sanctions, was designed to counter attempts to circumvent our sanctions," Nauert said. "Let's remember that these sanctions didn't just come out of nowhere. Our targeted sanctions were imposed in response to Russia's ongoing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbor, Ukraine. If the Russians seek an end to these sanctions, they know very well the U.S. position."

A Kremlin spokesman said "retaliatory" options are being considered as a response to the U.S. sanctions, which follow already terse relations between the two countries -- particularly owing to purported Russian interference in last fall's presidential election and its ongoing military activity in Ukraine's Donbass region. Former President Barack Obama levied punitive sanctions against the Kremlin in December for the election interference issue.

Prior to the new measures Tuesday, some had spoken of a possible meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Germany next month.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories