Russia and the United States failed to make any major progress on the functioning of their embassies in talks in Moscow on Tuesday, and there is now a risk that relations could deteriorate further, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.
With relations already at a low level since the Cold War, the two countries are in dispute over the functioning of their diplomatic missions, including the number of diplomats they can post in each other’s capitals.
“I cannot say that we have made much progress,” Interfax news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying after talks with US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. “The tension is in danger of intensifying.”
There was no immediate comment from the US side.
Last week the Russian Foreign Ministry said a US Congressional resolution to expel 300 Russian diplomats from the United States would close US diplomatic facilities in Russia, if implemented.
Ryabkov said the talks with Nuland were open and fruitful, but the two sides differed in their stances.
RIA news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying that Moscow does not rule out the frozen work of Russian and US diplomatic missions, but would like to avoid such a scenario.
He said that the two sides will hold fresh discussions to resolve the issue of visas and diplomats without giving a date.
Nuland’s visit to Moscow this week angered some Russian nationalists, who vandalized a makeshift memorial to the murder of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov in central Moscow early Monday.
The veteran Russia expert is regarded by the Kremlin hawks as someone who has stirred up anti-Russian sentiment in former Soviet countries like Ukraine that Moscow considers its sphere of influence.
His visit comes at a time when relations between the US and Russia are severely strained over several other issues, including cyber attacks against US targets and the jailing of Alexei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent domestic rival.
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