South Asia and Beyond

Russia Retaliates, Doesn’t Rule Out Summit

Russia has expelled 10 U.S. diplomats in response to America’s sanctions for election interference and the SolarWinds hack uncovered in December 2020. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said President Putin “endorsed these measures”, also “recommending” that the U.S. recall Ambassador John Sullivan. Russia did that in March after President Joe Biden agreed to a journalist asking if he considered Putin ‘a killer’. Eight serving and former U.S. officials have been barred from entering Russia, including the U.S. Attorney General, FBI Director and Director of National Intelligence. In a move designed to hit the U.S. embassy hard, Moscow has frozen hiring personnel from Russia and third countries as support staff. Also banned from entering Russia are Susan Rice, a former U.N. ambassador and John Bolton, who was a national security advisor under Trump. A Biden-proposed summit is still on cards, in what could be the President’s first overseas visit. Finland has offered to host a meeting like the one between Trump and Putin it did in 2018. On April 16, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: “It’s the G7, not the G8 … What the President is offering is a bridge back. And so certainly he believes it’s in their interest to take him up on that offer.” The Russian Foreign Ministry statement said: “We have obviously heard President Joe Biden express interest in stable, constructive and predictable relations with Russia, including a proposed Russian-U.S. summit. When this offer was made, it was received positively and is now being considered in the context of concrete developments.”

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