Russian diplomat cancels meeting over new US sanctions

Russian diplomat cancels meeting over new US sanctions
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Russia's deputy foreign minister has cancelled a scheduled meeting with Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the under secretary of State for political affairs, the State Department said Wednesday.

Shannon, who is currently meeting with U.K. officials in London, was set to meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov in St. Petersburg on Friday.

According to the AP, Ryabkov said in a statement that "the situation is not conducive to holding a round of this dialogue" with the U.S. 

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“We regret that Russia has decided to turn away from an opportunity to discuss bilateral obstacles that hinder U.S.-Russia relations,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement. “We would refer you to the Russian government to explain their decision to cancel this meeting. From our perspective, and as Secretary [Rex] Tillerson has made clear, there are many issues to be discussed. We remain open to future discussions.”

The announcement that Ryabkov would not meet with Shannon came a day after the U.S. Treasury Department added 38 individuals and entities, including two Russian government officials, to its list of those facing sanctions for Russian intervention in Ukraine and Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The decision to widen the list came as President TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the White House.

Nauert defended the sanctions on Wednesday, saying that penalties were in line with longstanding U.S. policy and should not have come as a surprise to the Kremlin.

 

"Let’s remember that these sanctions didn’t just come out of nowhere," she said. "Our targeted sanctions were imposed in response to Russia’s ongoing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbor, Ukraine."

Tensions have heightened between the U.S. and Russia in recent months amid ongoing disputes over the civil war in Syria, as well as a series of ongoing investigations in the U.S. into the Kremlin's role in the 2016 presidential election.

On the campaign trail and after entering the White House, Trump pressed for warmer relations with Moscow and increased cooperation in fighting international terrorism. 

Trump is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinFormer US envoy Samantha Power: Trump finding 'new ways to compensate Putin for election interference' Overnight Defense: Ex-Ukraine ambassador offers dramatic day of testimony | Talks of 'crisis' at State Department | Trump tweets criticism of envoy during hearing | Dems warn against 'witness intimidation' | Trump defends his 'freedom of speech' Highly irregular: Rudy, the president, and a venture in Ukraine MORE for the first time next month during a Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

-This post was updated at 12:45 p.m.