Russia says it is open to lifting sanctions on diplomatic missions with the US

Russia says it is open to lifting sanctions on diplomatic missions with the US
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The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said it is open to lifting sanctions on diplomatic missions with the U.S., but warned that any action against Moscow “won’t be left unanswered.”

“Any hostile anti-Russian action won’t be left unanswered, but Moscow doesn’t want any further escalation,” the ministry said, according to The Associated Press. “We are offering to lift all the restrictions imposed by both parties over the past few years.”

The offer to lift sanctions comes after Russia and the U.S. this weekend agreed to lift targeted sanctions from one another, which allowed U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland to visit Moscow this week for meetings with Russian officials.

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Nuland, the number three official at the State Department, was removed from Russia’s sanctions list that bans people from entering the country, and the U.S. lifted a similar restriction that prohibited a Russian citizen from entering the U.S.

At the time the identity of the Russian official was not revealed, but The AP is now reporting, citing the RIA-Novosti news agency, that the U.S. issued Konstantin Vorontsov, a Russian diplomat who works on matters of arms control, a visa to enter the U.S. and attend a meeting at the United Nations.

The foreign ministry also said that further “confrontational” policies from the U.S. targeting Russia would add additional strain to their relationship, and urged the U.S. to take a “realistic approach on the basis of equality and taking mutual interests into account,” according to the AP. 

Nuland touched down in Russia on Monday, where she will stay for three days to conduct meetings with officials in Moscow that pertain to “a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues,” according to the State Department.

Russia’s offer on Tuesday to lift sanctions was made during the talks between Nuland and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, according to the AP.

Jason P. Rebholz, the spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, tweeted on Tuesday that Nuland had “constructive meetings” with her counterparts at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but did not reveal any additional details.

Ryabkov said he and the undersecretary did not make any forward movement on normalizing the diplomatic missions between the two countries, the AP reported, citing the Interfax news agency. The missions have reportedly been stymied by sanctions.

He also said the two spoke about arms control negotiations and circumstances in Afghanistan, in addition to other topics, adding that the talks between the officials were “direct and businesslike.”