U.S. ambassador to Russia to return to U.S for consultations

 U.S Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said in a statement on Tuesday that he would return to the United States this week for consultations, as a crisis in ties between Moscow and Washington deepens.

U.S President Joe Biden last week expelled 10 Russian diplomats and imposed significant sanctions on the Russian economy as a way to punish the Kremlin for alleged election meddling and a major cyberhack.

Russia responded in kind, ordering 10 U.S diplomats out of the country, placing an entry ban on eight current and former U.S officials, and also suggesting that Sullivan return to Washington.

“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 U.S and Russia.

“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. I will return to Moscow in the coming weeks before any meeting between Presidents Biden and Putin,’’ Sullivan said.

In spite of each side ratcheting up the pressure, the leaders have signalled openness to dialogue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted an invitation by Biden to attend an online video conference on climate change this Thursday.

The U.S president also wanted to meet Putin in Europe this summer for a face-to-face meeting to discuss U.S-Russian relationship.

Putin had not yet indicated whether he would accept that invitation. (dpa/NAN)