Russia yesterday offered the US to roll back several rounds of sanctions that have hampered the activities of their diplomatic missions, but reaffirmed its strong opposition to any US military presence in Central Asia.
he Russian proposal was made during the talks between US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
Ms Nuland arrived in Moscow on Monday on a three-day visit for talks that the US State Department said would touch on a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues.
The US Embassy tweeted Ms Nuland’s description of her meetings as “constructive” but did not give any details.
Mr Ryabkov said he and Ms Nuland made no progress on normalising the work of their diplomatic missions, which has been hampered by multiple rounds of sanctions, adding that the situation could exacerbate even further.
The Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated Moscow’s readiness to respond in kind to any unfriendly US actions and called for rolling back a slew of sanctions and restrictions on diplomatic missions.
“Any hostile anti-Russian action won’t be left unanswered, but Moscow doesn’t want any further escalation,” the ministry said. “We are offering to lift all the restrictions imposed by both parties over the past few years.”
It warned that the continuation of the “confrontational” US policy toward Russia would further worsen ties and suggested taking a “realistic approach on the basis of equality and taking mutual interests into account”.
Russia agreed to take Ms Nuland off of its list of sanctioned US officials to allow her visit, and the US responded by issuing a visa to Konstantin Vorontsov, a Russian diplomat dealing with arms control issues, to let him attend this week’s meeting at the United Nations, Mr Ryabkov said.
Mr Ryabkov said after yesterday’s meeting with Ms Nuland that they touched on arms control negotiations and the situation in Afghanistan, among other subjects.
He told the Interfax news agency that he stressed that “the US and its allies bear the main responsibility among foreign actors for normalising life in Afghanistan, since their presence actually led to the current situation”.
The Russian diplomat described the conversation as “direct and businesslike,” adding that he again emphasised Moscow’s strong opposition to any US presence in the former Soviet Central Asian nations following the American exit from Afghanistan.
On other issues, Mr Ryabkov said he expressed Moscow’s concern about the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine deal between the US, the UK and Australia, in view of the international nuclear non-proliferation agreements.
During her visit Ms Nuland is also set to hold talks with Kremlin deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak, who acts as President Vladimir Putin’s point person on Ukraine.
The US has strongly backed Ukraine in its standoff with Russia that followed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.