| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

US ambassador to Russia ‘to return to Washington for consultations’ amid tensions

US ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan has said he would travel to Washington this week for consultations, after the Kremlin suggested that he do so amid a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Sullivan as saying he was planning to return to Russia within a few weeks, before a possible summit between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The already tense ties hit the bottom last week after Washington rolled out sweeping economic sanctions against Russia and announced the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats.

The measures were part of an executive order signed by President Biden that also left open the possibility for the White House to expand the sanctions on Russian sovereign debt.

Washington says the sanctions were in response to Russia’s interference in US election and a massive cyber-attack, a charge Moscow denies.

Although the Kremlin swiftly responded to the latest round of sanctions, it left the door open for dialog.

“Now is the time for the United States to demonstrate good sense and to turn its back on a confrontational course,” a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry said, stressing that, “Otherwise an array of painful decisions for the American side will be implemented.”

Russia ordered 10 American diplomats to leave the country after the United States expelled the same number of Russian diplomats over what Washington alleged were “malign actions,” saying that the US ambassador should also go back home for some consultations.

In a Russian Foreign Ministry statement last week, Moscow also banned eight high-ranking “incumbent and former US high-ranking officials and figures, who have been involved in working out and implementing the anti-Russian policy.”

Before the Russian counter-sanctions were unveiled, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “Putin has repeatedly said we’re ready to develop dialog as much as our counterparts are ready to do so. In this sense it is probably positive that the views of the two heads of state coincide.”

Moscow also said the Russian president had yet to decide whether he would take part in a US-led climate summit next week.

Relations between the White House and the Kremlin hit a new low last month after Biden said in an interview that he believed Putin was a “killer” and that the Russian president would have to “pay a price” for interference in the 2020 US presidential election. Russia has strongly denied that it interfered in the vote.