Russia has backed out of meeting with U.S. State Department officials at the Kremlin planned for later this week following the renewal of sanctions against Russia for its “ongoing violation” of Ukraine’s sovereignty by occupying parts of that country.
“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, noting that the “package of sanctions” issued by the Treasury Department this week is protocol that has been followed by the federal government twice a year since the sanctions were put in place.
“If the Russians seek an end to these sanctions, they know very well the U.S. position: Our sanctions on Russia related Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine will remain in place until Russia fully honors its obligations under the Minsk Agreements,” the statement said. “Our sanctions related to Crimea will not be lifted until Russia ends its occupation of the peninsula.”
“The situation is not conducive to holding a round of this dialogue,” said Sergey Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, according to the Associated Press.
“The Russians protested that the new sanctions update is unwarranted because Ukraine has failed to fulfill its own obligations under the Minsk ceasefire agreements,” the Washington Examiner reported.
“Sanctions have yet again been adopted without any good reason,” Lavrov told reporters. “Regrettably, our [European Union] colleagues have devised a devious formula, according to which all sanctions will be lifted when Russia implements the Minsk Agreements… The only thing I can say now is that I regret the anti-Russia obsession of our American colleagues that is overstepping the limits.”
“The cancellation of the upcoming summit could strengthen Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s opposition to a new package of Russia sanctions that have passed the Senate but not the House. Tillerson warned lawmakers that the bill might preempt his efforts at diplomacy with Russia,” the Examiner reported.