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Russian diplomat comments on Moscow-Washington relations

December 05, 12:45 UTC+3

A Russian diplomat compares Moscow-Washington ties to the Cold War era

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© EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

MOSCOW, December 5. /TASS/. Relations between Moscow and Washington have entered a period reminiscent of the Cold War era, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday, addressing a meeting of the Russian Public Council for International Cooperation and Public Diplomacy dubbed Russia and the US: Problems and Prospects for the Development of Bilateral Relations.

"We [Russia and the US] have probably entered a period, which is in many ways reminiscent of the Cold War era," the senior Russian diplomat said. "The level of negative attitude towards Russia and the deliberate spread of anti-Russian sentiment, particularly in the media, causes concern," he added.

"It is like a tsunami wave that has swept across America, and we need to figure out how it happened that these ideas managed to penetrated US society so deeply," the Russian deputy foreign minister pointed out. "All the opinion polls show similar results on this matter, but, frankly speaking, not many polls have been conducted," Ryabkov added.

According to him, the attitude to Moscow in the Washington elite, as well as in the elites in other big cities, has very much deteriorated. "Let alone the situation in the US state agencies, where a negative approach to Russia and our policies, in my view, is unprecedented in the entire history of the United States and the entire period of social and political changes in Russia," Ryabkov noted.

"This is an alarming sign and it is unclear how much time it will take before any positive changes begin to take place," he said.

Washington has been showing a declining willingness to work on international platforms, such as the UN Security Council and G20, he went on. 

"Our US counterparts have been showing a declining willingness to work, first and foremost, on international platforms in order to find compromises and draw up documents for the UN Security Council, G20 and special UN agencies, such as the OPCW, and IAEA," he said.

"The US has been losing the capacity to work on a documents, we have often facing situations when we and others are forced to make a choice: ‘you either take what you are given or you will not get anything at all’," Ryabkov said.

According to the Russian deputy foreign minister, it indicates not only Washington’s intention "to impose its political will on other members of the global community, but also the declining level of professional skills among US diplomats.".

 There are clear games rules in relations between Moscow and Washington that are recognized by both sides, he went on. 

"One of the unique characteristics of the period that our relations with the US are going through is the absence of clear game rules that are recognized by both sides and the absence of a scheme that could be used to manage crises," the diplomat noted.

Anti-Russian sanctions

Moscow is not afraid of Washington’s sanctions, and there are no conditions for their abolishment in the agenda of the bilateral contacts, the diplomat said.

"We are not afraid of sanctions as they are; criteria for their abolishment are not included in the agenda of the Russian-US dialogue. We believe that the sanctions pressure galvanized our domestic development in some areas," the diplomat said.

He noted that "there are areas in which the effects of the sanctions are tangible in a most negative way."

"We are ready to overcome the artificially created deadlock in relations," the diplomat noted. "A lot depends on the attitude of the American side."

The two countries have a rich common history and old mutual interest, he said. "This, we hope, is a framework which is stable enough for developing more productive relations in the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect," Ryabkov noted. "There is basis for some optimism. I hope it is possible to overcome today’s difficulties."

North Korean problem

Washington’s unpredictable and harsh steps fuel tensions on the Korean Peninsula, he went on. 

"There are signs of unpredictability in the US policy today, an obvious tendency to take harsh steps," he said, "We see this, in particular with regard to the Korean peninsula, where the situation is balancing on the edge."

According to Ryabkov, "Washington's offensive rhetoric against Pyongyang, the constant US-South Korean military exercises only fuel tension."

"All parties should refrain from provocative steps and try to establish a meaningful dialogue," the high-ranking diplomat said.

Cyber security cooperation

Russia’s cybercrime cooperation proposals are bogged down with Washington’s bureaucracy, the diplomat said.

"We have never dodged professional talks on that matter," he said. "On the contrary, since 2015 Russia has been offering to establish bilateral cooperation to deal with crimes in the cyber space or, at least, to organize a meeting between experts."

"The United States’ previous administration was wearing out this initiative and now it is bogged down with the US bureaucracy," he stressed. "And this is despite that fact that the Russian and US president at their meeting on the margins of the Group of Twenty in Hamburg on July 7 reached a common understanding about the necessity to create a mechanism to discuss the entire range of cyber security issues."

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