MOSCOW – The Kremlin voiced displeasure Wednesday about new United States sanctions against Russia and called off much-anticipated talks with a senior U.S administration official in response.
The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it had imposed sanctions on 38 Russian individuals and firms over Russian activities in Ukraine. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the penalties were designed to “maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic solution.”
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Wednesday that the U.S. move wasn’t constructive and warned of possible retaliation.
Later in the day, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said he had cancelled talks that were scheduled for Friday with the U.S. undersecretary of state.
“The situation is not conducive to holding a round of this dialogue”, the Russian Foreign Ministry quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.
Ryabkov also criticized the U.S. for “not having offered and not offering anything specific” to discuss at the upcoming talks.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States regretted Russia’s decision to “turn away” from a chance to discuss obstacles in the U.S.-Russia relationship, but added that the U.S. remains open to negotiations with Russia.
Nauert also said the sanctions that were expanded on Tuesday “didn’t come out of nowhere” and would remain in place until Russia honors the peace deal for eastern Ukraine and stops occupying Crimea.
Russia-U.S. relations have remained tense even as the White House considers scheduling President Donald Trump’s meeting with Putin on the sidelines of next month’s Group of 20 meeting.
Peskov on Wednesday reaffirmed the possibility of such a meeting, but said that no preparations had been made yet.