Russia said it failed to make any progress concerning a dispute over embassies in high-level talks with the US on Tuesday. Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Moscow.
Since the end of the Obama administration, the US has been expelling Russian diplomats and putting restrictions on Russia’s diplomatic facilities in the US as a punitive action against Moscow. Russia has responded in kind, and the diplomatic dispute has led to the shuttering of consulates.
The Russian Foreign Minister said in a statement on the talks that Ryabkov offered for both sides to lift the diplomatic restrictions. “Any hostile anti-Russian action won’t be left unanswered, but Moscow doesn’t want any further escalation. We are offering to lift all the restrictions imposed by both parties over the past few years,” the ministry said.
But Ryabkov said after the talks with Nuland that he doesn’t believe much headway was made. “I cannot say that we have achieved great progress. There is a risk of a further sharpening of tensions,” he said.
Nuland and Ryabkov discussed a number of other issues, including arms control and Afghanistan. Ryabkov reiterated Russia’s stance that it does not want the US to have a military presence in Central Asia, something Washington was hoping to establish after the Afghanistan withdrawal. “We strongly reaffirmed the unacceptability to Russia of any form of US military presence in Central Asian countries,” Ryabkov said.
On Wednesday, Nuland is expected to meet with Kremlin deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak, who is said to be President Putin’s point man on Ukraine. Nuland is infamously known in Russia as a key orchestrator of the US-backed coup in Kyiv in 2014. For her to get into Russia, Moscow had to agree to lift sanctions on Nuland.