Russia has canceled a planned round of talks with the US in protest at new sanctions imposed this week over Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.
The deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, denounced the new sanctions, which expanded the list of individuals and organisations targeted by the US treasury, as the responsibility of “avid Russophobes” in Congress who were determined to derail US-Russian relations.
As a result, Ryabkov said he was cancelling a meeting with his US counterpart, Tom Shannon, in St Petersburg later this week – which was supposed to have been part of a continuing dialogue between Washington and Moscow aimed at reducing “irritants” in bilateral relations.
The sanctions, Ryabkov said, had meant that the circumstances were “not conducive to holding this round of dialogue, particularly as there is no agenda set out for it, as Washington does not to want to make concrete proposals”.
In response, the state department expressed regret and said the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, was “open to future discussions”.
However, in a bluntly worded response to Ryabkov’s statement, the state department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, insisted the new measures were intended to reinforce existing sanctions and were “designed to counter attempts to circumvent our sanctions”.