Kremlin coy on Putin-Biden summit, warns against US sanctions

Photo: Reuters Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shakes hands with US Vice President Joe Biden during their meeting in Moscow, 10 March 2011.EUTERS/Alexander NatruskinReuters

Russia said on Wednesday it was too early to talk tangibly about US President Joe Biden’s proposal to meet President Vladimir Putin, and the Kremlin told Washington not to impose any new sanctions on Moscow, according to the RIA news agency.

Biden, in a phone call on Tuesday, proposed a summit of the estranged leaders to tackle a raft of disputes and told Moscow to reduce tensions over Ukraine triggered by a Russian military build-up.

Moscow’s U.S. ties slumped to a new post-Cold War low last month after Biden said he thought Putin was a “killer” and Moscow recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations. The envoy has still not returned almost a month later.

“It’s still too early to talk about this meeting in tangible terms. It’s a new proposal and it will be studied,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that it would be discussed further through diplomatic channels.

“The sides are not yet planning a range of topics to discuss, there isn’t yet any preparation for this meeting,” he said.

Separately, Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov invited John Sullivan, the US ambassador in Moscow, to talks on Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry said, according to the RIA and TASS news agencies.

Ushakov told the ambassador that Moscow would act decisively if the United States undertook any new “unfriendly steps” such as imposing sanctions, RIA reported.

The US embassy in Moscow did not immediately respond to a request for comment about those talks.

Russia has been preparing to be hit by new sanctions since Biden said last month that Putin would pay a price for alleged Russian meddling in the November 2020 U.S. presidential election. Moscow denies interfering.

The threat of sanctions put pressure on the rouble for weeks, though new punitive measures have so far not been imposed.

The rouble rose sharply late on Tuesday after the Biden-Putin call.

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