World Kremlin Tells U.S. Ambassador to Return to America, Talk to White House: Russian Foreign Minister
Afghanistan tops agenda of Russia-Pakistan talks in Islamabad
Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov visits Pakistan, both countries reaffirm their support for the Afghan peace process.Lavrov met Qureshi at the Pakistani foreign ministry for delegation-level talks on Wednesday, and will also hold meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other top officials.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that John Sullivan, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, return to the States to consult with the White House on Friday in a response to new sanctions the U.S. has placed on Russia, according to the Associated Press.
The sanctions come as punishment for Russia's efforts to interfere with the 2020 election and the SolarWinds hack of federal agencies that the Kremlin has since denied.
Britain slams ‘bullying’ Myanmar over London embassy ‘coup’
Diplomats loyal to the military seized control of embassy leaving Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn locked out in the street. The ambassador said the defence attache had taken over the mission in “a kind of coup”, two months after the military seized power in Myanmar and urged the international community to help his country. “Please assist our country and help our country as without international assistance we will not be able to get out of this mess,” he told reporters outside the embassy.
"We have repeatedly warned the United States about the consequences of its hostile moves that are dangerously raising the level of confrontation between our countries," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Thursday.
"This course of action does not serve the interests of the people of the two leading nuclear powers that bear historical responsibility for the fate of the world."
The White House issued a detailed fact sheet on its sanctions announced this week against Russia on Thursday and said that costs will be imposed on the Russian government for "actions that seek to harm us."
In a call with Russian Presidenton Tuesday, President said that he chose to not impose tougher sanctions for now and invited him to meet in another country this summer, an offer that Lavrov said is being considered, according to AP.
What is behind the growing tensions in Ukraine?
The Ukrainian government’s push for NATO membership could provoke a dangerous escalation of the Ukrainian conflict.Western observers have been speculating that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to test US President Joe Biden’s resolve or that he wants to distract public attention in Russia from the plight of the first poisoned, then imprisoned opposition leader Aleksey Navalny. It is also not inconceivable that he might be entertaining the idea of replicating the “Crimea effect” by waging “a small victorious war” on the eve of parliamentary elections in September. In 2014, the annexation of Crimea resulted in a huge surge in his personal popularity.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Russia on Friday responded in kind to a barrage of new U.S. sanctions, saying it would expel 10 U.S. diplomats and take other retaliatory moves in a tense showdown with Washington.
Lavrov also said Moscow will add eight U.S. officials to its sanctions list and move to restrict and stop the activities of U.S. nongovernment organizations from interfering in Russia's politics.
Russia will also move to deny the U.S. Embassy the possibility to hire personnel from Russia and third countries as support staff.
While the U.S. wields the power to cripple the Russian economy, Moscow lacks levers to respond in kind, although it potentially could hurt American interests in many other ways around the globe.
Lavrov noted that while Russia could take "painful measures" against American business interests in Russia, it wouldn't immediately move to do that
Why Putin may not be planning invasion Ukraine fears
President Biden's proposal for a summit with Russia's leader means the risk of an escalation has faded.As the hostile rhetoric and military moves around Ukraine have intensified, Western politicians have begun fearing an open invasion and urging Russia's Vladimir Putin to "de-escalate".
The Russian Foreign Ministry warned of an "inevitable" retaliation, charging that "Washington should realize that it will have to pay a price for the degradation of bilateral ties."
The U.S. on Thursday ordered 10 Russian diplomats expelled, targeted dozens of companies and people, and imposed new curbs on Russia's ability to borrow money. Pundits had predicted that while Moscow would respond in kind to the expulsions, it would refrain from any other significant moves to avoid a further escalation.
Russia's economic potential and its global reach are limited compared with the Soviet Union that competed with the U.S for international influence during the Cold War. Still, Russia's nuclear arsenal and its leverage in many parts of the world make it a power that Washington needs to reckon with.
Aware of that, Biden called for de-escalating tensions and held the door open for cooperation with Russia in certain areas.
While the new U.S. sanctions further limited Russia's ability to borrow money by banning U.S. financial institutions from buying Russian government bonds directly from state institutions, they didn't target the secondary market.
Russia ‘threatening Ukraine with destruction’, Kyiv says
Foreign minister’s comments come as his counterparts from the Baltic nations visit Kyiv in a show of solidarity.Fighting has intensified in recent weeks in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions, where government forces have battled Russian-backed separatists since April 2014 after the rebels seized a swath of territory there.
"It's very important that there are no sanctions on secondary debt because that means that non-U.S. persons can buy the debt and sell it to the U.S. persons," said Tom Adshead, director of research at Macro-Advisory Ltd, an analytics and advisory company.
Tougher restrictions would also hurt Western businesses, inflict significant economic pain on the Russian population and allow Putin to rally anti-U.S. sentiments to shore up his rule.
Ramping up sanctions could eventually drive Russia into a corner and provoke even more reckless Kremlin action, such as a potential escalation in Ukraine, which has recently faced a surge in clashes with Russia-backed separatists in the east and a massive Russian troops buildup across the border.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in Paris on Friday to discuss the tensions with French President. German Chancellor was to join them in a call later.
Fyodor Lukyanov, a top foreign policy expert who leads the Moscow-based Council for Foreign and Defense Policies, predicted Putin would likely accept Biden's invitation to join next week's call on climate change but could drag his feet on accepting the summit offer.
"There is no way to make any deals," Lukyanov said. "There is a mutual antipathy and a total lack of trust."
Russia to expel 10 US diplomats in response to US sanctions
Moscow says it will also place eight US officials on a sanctions list and restrict US NGO activity in Russia.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday also said Moscow will add eight US administration officials to its sanctions list and move to restrict and stop the activities of US non-government organisations from interfering in Russia’s politics.
He charged that the only practical outcome of the summit could be an agreement to launch long and difficult talks on a replacement to the New START nuclear reduction agreement that Russia and the U.S. extended in February for another five years.
Lukyanov noted that the growing U.S. pressure will push Russia and China closer together in the long run.
"Closer cooperation with China on coordinating actions to contain the United States will develop more quickly now as the Chinese are interested in that," he said. While Russia lacks tools for a symmetrical answer to the U.S. sanctions, "it has ample capabilities to stimulate changes in the world order," he added.
Konstantin Kosachev, the Kremlin-connected deputy speaker of the upper house of parliament, said that by hitting Russia with sanctions and proposing a summit at the same time, the U.S. sought to take a commanding stance.
"Russia's consent would be interpreted as a reflection of its desire to soften the sanctions, allowing the U.S. to secure a dominant position at the meeting, while our refusal to meet would be a convenient pretext for more punitive measures," Kosachev wrote on.
He argued that Russia should not rush to accept Biden's summit offer.
"Revenge is a dish best served cold," Kosachev wrote. "I believe the saying is quite adaptable to a situation when we talk not about revenge but a due answer to aggressive action by an opponent."
Some predicted the U.S. sanctions could discourage Russia from cooperating with the U.S. on international crises.
Russia, Ukraine expel diplomats as tensions soar
Russia on Saturday said it would expel a Ukrainian diplomat, prompting an immediate pledge of retaliation from Kiev, further escalating tensions over Moscow's troop build-up on Ukraine's eastern flank. Foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said Russia had "crudely" violated diplomatic conventions and sought to escalate tensions. "In response to the above-mentioned provocation, a senior diplomat of the Russian embassy in Kiev must leave Ukrainian territory within 72 hours beginning April 19," Nikolenko told AFP. He did not provide further details.
"The Russian position will grow tougher on Syria, the Iranian nuclear deal and other issues," Ivan Timofeev, program director at Russian International Affairs Council, said in a commentary. Instead of acting as a deterrent, he warned, the sanctions would "only anger Russia and make its policy even tougher."
However, any attempt by Russia to undermine American interests would dangerously escalate tensions with the U.S. and trigger even harder sanctions—something the Kremlin certainly wants to avoid.
Despite the soaring tensions, Russia and the U.S. have shared interests in many global hot spots. For example, Moscow fears that instability could spread from Afghanistan to former Soviet republics in Central Asia, and it is interested in a political settlement there.
As for Iran, Moscow also doesn't want to see it with nuclear weapons, despite its friendly ties with Tehran.
Lukyanov said that Russia wouldn't try to use global hot spots to hurt the U.S. and would wait patiently to see them erode U.S. domination.
"It's not a matter of playing the spoiler here or there," he said. "The ongoing developments will help accelerate the process of consolidation of leading powers against the U.S. domination."
Czech govt expels 18 Russian diplomats over 2014 blast .
The Czech government said Saturday it would expel 18 Russian diplomats identified by local intelligence as secret agents of the Russian SVR and GRU services that are suspected of involvement in a 2014 explosion. Czech police also said later they were seeking two Russians in connection with the blast, which killed two people, with passports used by the suspects in the attempted poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in 2018. © Natalia KOLESNIKOVA Headquarters in Moscow of the Russian General Staff's Main Intelligence Department (GRU) as seen in late 2016 "Eighteen employees of the Russian embassy must leave our republic within 48 hours," F