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USA takes pause in relations with Russia

August 12, 2013, 10:52 UTC+3

Kremlin is disappointed with the cancellation of Barack Obama's visit to Moscow

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Barack Obama publicly explained why he had cancelled his visit to Moscow. The Snowden story was not the only reason. The U.S. leader does not yet understand where Russia is headed under Vladimir Putin's presidency, and decided to take a pause. The U.S. president planned to hold talks with Vladimir Putin ahead of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, but eventually decided to attend only the summit, the RBC Daily wrote. The asylum granted to Edward Snowden, the exposer of U.S. secret services, is not the only reason. "It is just one more in a number of emerging differences that we've seen over the last several months around Syria, around human rights issues," Obama noted mentioning the Russian ban on gay parades.

In his opinion, Russian-US relations became friendlier when Dmitry Medvedev was the president, but after Putin's comeback to Kremlin, Moscow somewhat changed its position.

"It is probably appropriate for us to take a pause, reassess where it is that Russia's going," the U.S. leader said promising not to boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

"Kremlin is disappointed with the cancellation of Barack Obama's visit to Moscow," the newspaper cited presidential aide Yuri Ushakov as saying, "but the invitation remains in force. Hopefully, the USA will return to the issue sooner or later, because top-level communication between Moscow and Washington is very important, and not just for our two countries."

Ushakov recalled that Russia and the USA had all kinds of spy stories through the time, but that nobody had blown them out of proportions, otherwise, "these relations would have long deadlocked."

Russia is ready to continue contacts with the U.S. at different levels, and the visit of ministers Sergei Shoigu and Sergei Lavrov to the U.S. is a direct proof, Ushakov assured. The fate of the documents which were due for signing at the summit is still unclear.

U.S. President Barack Obama's statement regarding the need to take a pause in relations with Russia, which was made during the visit to Washington by Russian ministers of defense and foreign affairs, was an unpleasant surprise for Moscow, the Kommersant writes. A Russian diplomatic source complained to the newspaper that "they riled up Barack Obama" to such an extent that he made personal remarks. Nevertheless, a Kommersant source at the Russian Foreign Ministry assured that Moscow had no intention to make reciprocal moves which would affect bilateral interaction. Still, it will not be easy to avoid at least partial "freeze" of relations. The newspaper sources close to the Department of State do not conceal that the pause will be lifted only on the condition of Moscow's concessions in such pressing issues as cuts in nuclear arsenals and missile defense.

It followed from the Russian ministers' statement that there was no crisis in Russian-U.S. relations. Sergei Lavrov assured that Russia and the USA had similar position on a number of issues, such as Afghanistan /it is in their common interests to keep stability in that country after the international coalition withdraws its forces in 2014/, Syria /seeking to hold the Geneva-2 conference/, the Iranian nuclear program /the "sextet's meeting should be held as soon as possible/, fight against the spreading of weapons of mass destruction, space exploration, etc. Furthermore, according to Mr. Lavrov, John Kerry agreed that the fate of former CIA analyst Edward Snowden who had been granted asylum in Russia should not shut off other topics for negotiations or undermine the common interests which coincide on many things.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu added that he did not feel "any changes in the approaches to military cooperation" between the two countries because of "the Snowden case."

The U.S. made the demonstrative gesture when the Russian delegation motorcade was speeding to the Andrews Air Force Base to fly to Moscow. At a special news conference, Barack Obama stated the necessity to "take a pause," in relations with Moscow; complaining that Vladimir Putin's comeback to the Kremlin resulted in stronger anti-American rhetoric and revival of Cold War stereotypes.

Still, a Kommersant source at the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that despite the U.S. leader's rhetoric, Moscow does not plan to make reciprocal moves which would affect real interaction between the two countries. Russian Defense Ministry officials assured that they were inclined to "hold talks with their U.S. counterparts without looking at the disagreements in other areas."

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