Hindustan Times (East UP)

US ambassador in Moscow heading home as rift widens


MOSCOW: The US ambassador in Moscow said on Tuesday he will head home for consultati­ons - a move that comes after the Kremlin prodded him to take a break as Washington and Moscow traded sanctions.

Ambassador John Sullivan said in a statement that he is returning to the US this week to discuss US-Russian ties with members of President Joe Biden’s administra­tion. He emphasised that he would come back to Moscow within weeks.

“I believe it is important for me to speak directly with my new colleagues in the Biden administra­tion in Washington about the current state of bilateral relations between the United States and Russia,” Sullivan said in a statement issued by the embassy. “Also, I have not seen my family in well over a year, and that is another important reason for me to return home for a visit.”

Sullivan’s departure comes after Russia on Friday stopped short of asking Sullivan to leave the country, but said it “suggested” that he follows the example of the Russian ambassador to Washington who was recalled for consultati­ons last month after President Joe Biden’s descriptio­n of President Vladimir Putin as a “killer.” Russia has set no time frame for Anatoly Antonov’s return to Washington.

Russia conducts Black Sea military drills: Report

More than 20 Russian warships took part in military exercises in the Black Sea, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a statement from Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

Russia has temporaril­y restricted the movement of foreign warships and what it called “other state ships” near Crimea, territory annexed from Ukraine in 2014, a move which caused the US to express its “deep concern”.

US defence department spokesman John Kirby said Moscow’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine is even bigger than in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea.

While the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell cited a figure of 150,000 Russian soldiers on the Ukrainian border, before his own services scaled that figure back without explanatio­n to 100,000, Kirby declined to name a specific figure. “It is the largest buildup we’ve seen certainly since 2014, which resulted in the violation of Ukrainian sovereignt­y and territoria­l integrity,” Kirby said.

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