United States and Russia

May 16, 2023 | 12:46pm
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United States and Russia
May 16, 2023

The US Central Intelligence Agency bolstered efforts to convince Russians to leak their country's secrets on Monday, posting an emotional video on Telegram aimed at people frustrated with the situation under President Vladimir Putin.

The short video depicts a Russian bureaucrat and a woman at home with a child, both apparently troubled in their lives, asking if it is what they dreamed of.

It suggests that people can take action to make things better — providing information to the US intelligence agency — and still be patriotic Russians.

The video and an accompanying text provide instructions on how to do so, using a Tor browser to access the dark web and encryption tools the CIA says will ensure their protection.

"The CIA wants to know the truth about Russia, and we are looking for reliable people who can tell us this truth," the agency writes.

"Your information may be more valuable than you think." — AFP

April 1, 2023

President Joe Biden calls for Russia to release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is being held on espionage charges, while rebuffing a call from the paper's editorial board to expel Russian journalists from the United States.

Asked by White House reporters what his message was to Russia regarding Gershkovich, a US citizen, Biden says: "Let him go."

The Wall Street Journal's board of opinion editors called in a piece published Thursday afternoon for the expulsion of Russia's ambassador to the United States, as well as "all Russian journalists working here," describing the move as "the minimum to expect." — AFP

March 4, 2023

The United States responds to a Russian warning against arming Ukraine by offering a further $400 million in security assistance, as President Joe Biden hosted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a show of unity against Moscow.

The head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group meanwhile said its forces had "practically encircled" the eastern Ukraine city of Bakhmut, which has seen the fiercest fighting of Moscow's invasion.

Western military aid for Ukraine has been key to Kyiv's ability to hold out against Moscow's military onslaught and to even regain ground, but the Kremlin said such assistance will only "prolong the conflict and have sad consequences for the Ukrainian people." — AFP

January 19, 2023

Russia's FSB security service says Thursday it opened a criminal case against a US citizen suspected of espionage, as ties between Moscow and Washington disintegrate further over the Kremlin's nearly year-long Ukraine offensive.

"The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation initiated a criminal case against a US citizen on the grounds of a crime under the 276 'Espionage' Article of the Criminal Code," the FSB says.

"The American is suspected of collecting intelligence information in the biological sphere, directed against the security of the Russian Federation," it adds. — AFP

December 24, 2022

The United States derisively calls on Russian President Vladimir Putin to acknowledge reality and pull troops from Ukraine after he finally called the conflict a "war."

Since Putin ordered the invasion in February, Russia has officially spoken of a "special military operation" and imposed a law that criminalizes what authorities call misleading terminology.

But at a news conference on Thursday, Putin himself used the word "war" as he said that he hoped to end it as soon as possible. — AFP

December 3, 2022

The United States says it was disappointed that Russia had postponed talks on nuclear arms control, voicing willingness to sit down despite high tensions over the Ukraine war.

Russia and the United States were set to meet from November 29 in Cairo on New START, the last major disarmament treaty between the world's two largest nuclear powers, in what would have marked rare contact since the February invasion of Ukraine.

State Department spokesman Ned Price says Russia "abruptly and unilaterally" postponed the week-long meeting and that any suggestion the United States was to blame was "entirely false." — AFP  

November 29, 2022

Russia announces that it was postponing highly anticipated arms control talks with the United States, scheduled to take place in Egypt despite tensions over the Ukraine conflict.

"The session of the bilateral coordinating committee on the Russian-American START Treaty, previously scheduled to take place in Cairo between November 29 and December 6, will not take place on the dates indicated," a foreign ministry spokesperson tells state-run news agency TASS.

"The event is postponed to a later date," the spokesperson was cited as saying. 

No other details were provided. — AFP

November 18, 2022

Russia says it hoped the United States will return notorious Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout in a prisoner swap, after American basketball star Brittney Griner was transferred to a penal colony.

"I would like to hope that the prospect (of an exchange) is not only still a topical issue, but that it is being strengthened, and the moment comes when we get a concrete agreement," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov tells reporters in Moscow, according to the state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

The US athlete was arrested at a Moscow airport in February and handed nine years in prison in August for possessing vape cartridges with a small quantity of cannabis oil.  — AFP

November 18, 2022

Russia says that the United States was testing the patience of Moscow's tacit ally North Korea after Pyongyang fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed near Japan.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergei Ryabkov tells the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that while Moscow prefers a diplomatic approach towards the Korean peninsula, "it's been particularly evident recently that the United States and its allies in the region, prefer a different path." 

"It's as if Pyongyang's patience is being tested," he says. — AFP

November 9, 2022

The Kremlin says that Moscow's ties with Washington were likely to remain at rock bottom regardless of the results of US midterm elections, with relations at a historic low over the conflict in Ukraine.

"These elections won't have any significant impact," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies, adding: "Our existing ties are bad and they will remain bad."

US President Joe Biden, who has been a key ally to Ukraine and provided weapons and financial backing, could be constrained in his support for Ukraine if Republicans win majorities the  Senate and the House of Representatives. — AFP

October 1, 2022

President Joe Biden says that the United States and NATO will not be intimidated by Russia's President Vladimir Putin and warns that the Western alliance would defend "every inch" of its territory.

"America and its allies are not going to be intimidated," he says in remarks at the White House. Putin is "not going to scare us."

Biden then addressed the Kremlin leader directly, pointing his finger into the television camera as he warned against any attack on NATO territory. — AFP

September 10, 2022

The United States on Friday accuses Russian authorities of violating the rights of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny by restricting his contact with lawyers and repeatedly subjecting him to solitary confinement.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most vocal domestic critic, is serving nine years in jail on a series of charges he says are politically motivated.

"The United States is deeply concerned by the Russian Government's escalating, arbitrary interference with Aleksey Navalny's rights," the State Department says in a statement late Friday.

The agency says prison authorities had interfered with Navalny's access to legal defense by supervising his meetings with his lawyers and delaying exchanges of documents and communication between them.

"This interference, along with his repeated diversion to solitary confinement for minor alleged infractions, is further evidence of politically motivated harassment," the statement continues. – AFP

September 3, 2022

Russia expresses "alarm" to the UN's secretary-general that the US has yet to issue visas for its delegation to attend a General Assembly session later this month, according to a letter seen Friday by AFP.

"None of the 56 Russian representatives from the main team and advance group have received entry visas to the United States" as of Thursday, wrote Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia in a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Nebenzia added that a "similar situation exists with the accompanying journalists and crew members" on the flight of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

August 16, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin accuses Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and of fuelling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including with the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. 

"The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fuelling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America," Putin says in televised remarks, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow via videolink.

"The American adventure in relation to Taiwan is not just a trip of an individual irresponsible politician, but part of a purposeful, conscious US strategy to destabilize and make chaotic the situation in the region and the world," he adds. — AFP

July 23, 2022

A US official says grain deal "well-structured" to check Russia compliance.

June 28, 2022

The Russian foreign ministry says US President Joe Biden's wife and daughter have been banned from Russia, along with 23 other Americans.

"As a reaction to the constantly expanding US sanctions against Russian political and public figures, 25 American citizens are added to a 'stop list,'" the ministry says in a note accompanying the list. — AFP

May 14, 2022

A senior Pentagon official says the first talks between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu since the Ukraine war began made no progress on key issues despite the US side's call for a ceasefire,

"The call itself didn't specifically solve any acute issues or lead to a direct change in what the Russians are doing or what they are saying," the official tells reporters. — AFP

April 13, 2022

President Joe Biden for the first time accuses Vladimir Putin's forces of committing genocide in Ukraine, where Russia was intensifying its campaign to subdue the devastated port city of Mariupol.

Biden's accusation came as Moscow -- already accused by the West of widespread atrocities against civilians -- was feared to be readying a massive onslaught across Ukraine's east that Washington warned might involve chemical weapons.

"Yes, I called it genocide," Biden tells reporters, hours after employing the term during a speech in Iowa -- its first use by a member of his administration. — AFP

April 9, 2022

US President Joe Biden accuses Russia of carrying out a "horrific atrocity," after a rocket attack on a train station packed with conflict evacuees in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk left at least 50 dead.

More than a month into President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has shifted focus to the east and south of the country after resistance halted plans to swiftly capture the capital Kyiv.

"The attack on a Ukrainian train station is yet another horrific atrocity committed by Russia, striking civilians who were trying to evacuate and reach safety," Biden says on Twitter. — AFP

March 30, 2022

The US State Department issues a travel advisory warning that Moscow "may single out and detain US citizens in Russia" and repeating earlier warnings for Americans not to travel to the country.

The warning was "due to the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces" as well as the potential for harassment of US citizens by Russian authorities, the travel advisory says, repeating calls for Americans traveling or living in Russia to leave "immediately." — AFP

March 24, 2022

Russia says it was expelling US diplomats in retaliation for Washington's step to remove 12 of Moscow's representatives to the UN based in New York.

"On March 23, a note with the list of the American diplomats declared 'persona non grata' was handed to the head of the American diplomatic mission who was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the ministry says in a statement.

The decision was taken in response to the expulsion by Washington of Russian diplomats at the UN in New York, the source says. — AFP

January 3, 2022

US President Joe Biden on Sunday reassured his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that Washington "will respond decisively" if Russia moves to invade its pro-Western neighbor, the White House said in a statement.

With a Russian military buildup on Ukraine's borders, Biden "made clear" to Zelensky during a phone call that the "United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

The show of US support for Ukraine comes days after Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin of severe consequences if Moscow launches a military invasion. — AFP

December 30, 2021

Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will speak by telephone Thursday amid high tension on Ukraine ahead of US-Russia security talks next month, the White House said.

It will be the second telephone call in less than a month between the two leaders, with Biden in early December warning Putin of "severe consequences" if Russia invades Ukraine.

Biden, who is at his home in Delaware for the New Year's holiday, will speak to Putin on Thursday about "a range of topics, including upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia," said Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

"The Biden administration continues to engage in extensive diplomacy with our European allies and partners, consulting and coordinating on a common approach in response to Russia's military build-up on the border with Ukraine," she said in a statement Wednesday. — AFP

December 29, 2021

Washington condemns the closure by Russia's Supreme Court of the prominent rights group Memorial International, calling it an "affront" to human rights.

"The persecution of International Memorial and Memorial Human Rights Center is an affront to their noble missions and to the cause of human rights everywhere," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement, referring to the group's sister organization that also risks closure.  

The decision, he adds, "follows a year of rapidly shrinking space for independent civil society, media, and pro-democracy activists in Russia." — AFP

December 7, 2021

The United States will impose "severe economic harm" on Russia and boost its military presence in Eastern Europe should Moscow invade Ukraine, the White House warned Monday, laying out the high stakes on the eve of talks between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

Ahead of his virtual meeting with Putin, Biden also spoke with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Britain on Monday, after which the western powers expressed their "determination" that Ukraine's sovereignty be respected.

The US president will also quickly inform his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky of the details of his discussion with Putin, taking place by videoconference Tuesday, as tens of thousands of Russian troops were positioned near the Ukraine border, a senior US official told reporters.

The official said the White House does not know if Putin has made a decision to launch his military forces against Ukraine — and stopped short of threatening direct intervention of American military force should he do so.

But Biden will make clear that there "will be genuine and meaningful and enduring costs to choosing to go forward should (Russia) choose to go forward with a military escalation," the official said, on grounds of anonymity. — AFP

July 15, 2021

The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin told US climate envoy John Kerry that Moscow and Washington have a shared interest in battling climate change,in a rare area of common ground between the rivals.

"The climate problem is one of the areas where Russia and the United States have common interests and similar approaches," Putin said in a phone call with Kerry who is visiting Moscow, the Kremlin says in a statement. 

Putin told the former secretary of state that Moscow "attaches great importance" to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and "advocates de-politicising" dialogue on climate change. — AFP 

July 10, 2021

US President Joe Biden once again tells his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to "take action" against ransomware hackers operating from Russia, but the Kremlin gave little sign of listening.

The White House said Biden and Putin spoke for about an hour by phone, focusing on the ransomware threat and separately about allowing humanitarian aid into Syria, where Russia is the main supporter of the Assad regime.

Talking to reporters, Biden says he "made it very clear" to Putin that "we expect them to act" against ransomware gangs. — AFP

June 16, 2021

US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin shook hands in Geneva on Wednesday at the start of their first summit, with tensions at their highest in years.

The two men shook hands after standing with their host, Swiss President Guy Parmelin, outside the La Grange villa overlooking Lake Geneva, where they are set to meet for up to five hours, with cyberattacks, election meddling and rights abuses among the many contentious issues on the agenda. —  AFP

June 13, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced hope Friday that US President Joe Biden will be less impulsive than his predecessor Donald Trump, ahead of his first summit with the new US leader.

In an interview with NBC News, Putin described Biden as a "career man" who has spent his life in politics.

Though he described relations with the United States as having "deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years," Putin said he expects he can work with Biden. —  AFP

May 20, 2021

The US and Russian foreign ministers sought to ease tensions in their first meeting since US President Joe Biden took office, saying they were ready to cooperate but acknowledging the wide gulf between the rival powers.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov praised the talks in Reykjavik on Wednesday, aimed in part at confirming a potential summit between presidents Biden and Vladimir Putin, as "constructive".

"There is an understanding of the need to overcome the unhealthy situation in ties between Moscow and Washington," Lavrov told reporters, although he added there were "a lot of logjams".  — AFP

January 22, 2021

US President Joe Biden on Thursday proposed a five-year extension with Russia of New START, days before the expiration of the last nuclear reduction treaty between the two powers, but vowed to press Moscow hard on a host of concerns.

The announcement on the first full day of Biden's presidency is intended to prevent a nuclear arms race but makes clear he will not attempt a "reset" of relations as attempted in varying forms by every post-Cold War president.

The treaty, which has limited the United States and Russia to 1,550 nuclear warheads each, expires on February 5 after negotiations stagnated under former president Donald Trump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin himself had offered Trump a five-year extension, the maximum allowed under the treaty that was signed in 2010 in Prague by former president Barack Obama.

"The United States intends to seek a five-year extension of New START, as the treaty permits," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

"This extension makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial as it is at this time," she said. — AFP

January 18, 2021

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday the United States "strongly condemns" the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who was detained when returning to Russia for the first time since his poisoning last summer.

"The United States strongly condemns Russia's decision to arrest Aleksey Navalny," Pompeo said in a statement.

"We note with grave concern that his detention is the latest in a series of attempts to silence Navalny and other opposition figures and independent voices who are critical of Russian authorities."

Navalny was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport less than an hour after he flew in from Germany, where he had been recovering from the poisoning with a nerve agent he says was ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

The US joined the European Union in condemning the move, with Pompeo saying that "Navalny is not the problem. We demand his immediate and unconditional release." — AFP

December 19, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that Russia was behind the devastating cyberattack on several US government agencies that also hit targets worldwide.

"There was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of US government systems," Pompeo tells The Mark Levin Show.

"This was a very significant effort, and I think it's the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity." — AFP

October 26, 2020

Despite failing to realize the Kremlin's hopes of spearheading a new era in US-Russia ties, US President Donald Trump is still Moscow's preferred candidate in the US election over his rival Joe Biden, analysts say.

Russia had high hopes for Trump when he was elected in 2016, at a time its relations with the West were swiftly deteriorating under the presidency of Barack Obama.

According to US intelligence, Moscow went as far as boosting Trump's campaign, in particular by launching hacking attacks against the Democratic Party.

And on Wednesday, the US director of national intelligence accused Russia and Iran of obtaining US voter information and taking actions to influence public opinion in next month's vote — accusations the Kremlin dismissed as "completely groundless." — AFP

September 28, 2019

Russia urges the United States not to publish Donald Trump's conversations with Vladimir Putin after a growing scandal led the White House to release a transcript from a call with Ukraine's leader.

"As for transcripts of phone conversations, my mother when bringing me up said that reading other people's letters is inappropriate," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tells reporters at the United Nations.

"It is indecent," he says. "For two people elected by their nations to be at the helm, there are diplomatic manners that suppose a certain level of confidentiality."

August 23, 2019

Russia and the US trade accusations at the United Nations of risking a new arms race as China said it would play no part in any new missile deal.

The United States and Moscow ditched the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty after blaming each other for violating the accord.

Deputy Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy tells the Security Council that Washington's testing of a ground-launched missile earlier this week showed "America is ready for an arms race." — AFP

June 29, 2019

Foreign ministers from the United States and Russia will begin talks over nuclear arms control but it may not lead to an extension of the START3 nuclear disarmament treaty, President Vladimir Putin says.

"We have charged our respective foreign ministers with starting consultations on this subject... but we can not yet say whether this will lead to an extension of START3," Putin tells reporters after a G20 summit in Osaka.

Putin did not say when talks would begin.

START3 refers to a proposed agreement between the two nuclear powers for which negotiations broke down years ago. — AFP

June 28, 2019

US President Donald Trump hails his "very, very good relationship" with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as the two leaders held talks on the sidelines of the G20 meeting.

"It's a great honour to be with President Putin," says Trump, who last held face-to-face talks with the Russian leader in Helsinki in 2018.

"We have a very, very good relationship," Trump says.

The keenly awaited meeting between the pair has been overshadowed by a probe into Trump's relations with Russia and the controversy that erupted the last time he held talks with the Kremlin leader. — AFP

June 8, 2019

Russia and the United States accuse each other of dangerous maneuvers after their naval ships came close to collision in the East China Sea.

Russia's Pacific Fleet says that the USS Chancellorsville guided-missile cruiser suddenly cut across the course of its Admiral Vinogradov anti-submarine ship, passing in front of it at a distance of just 50 meters (164 feet).

The Russian ship had to carry out an emergency maneuver to avoid collision, the navy said, adding that it had sent a message of protest to the US cruiser's commanders.

May 4, 2019

President Donald Trump says he held "very positive" talks Friday with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the crisis in oil-rich Venezuela, where Washington is pushing to oust the Moscow-backed president.

The US leader adopted a strikingly conciliatory tone following a more than hour-long conversation with Putin, coming days after an abortive military uprising in support of Juan Guaido, the opposition leader seeking to drive Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power. — AFP

February 20, 2019

The Trump administration announces it was nominating a successor to deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, a move that confirms the departure of the Justice Department official who until recently oversaw the Russia probe.

Rosenstein will be replaced by Jeffrey Rosen, the current deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation, President Donald Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. The decision is subject to confirmation in the Senate. — AFP

February 1, 2019

Russia says it regretted Washington's expected exit from a key arms control treaty and expected to receive formal notice from the United States shortly.

Russia and the US have over the past months held discussions to rescue the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty but say efforts have led nowhere. — AFP

January 31, 2019

Moscow and Washington have made "no progress" in talks on saving a key arms control treaty, a Russian diplomat says, with the United States expected to begin withdrawal this weekend.

Russian and US officials had met on the sidelines of a meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Beijing to discuss the fate of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) -- a source of raging tensions between Moscow and Washington. — AFP

January 31, 2019

The U.S. has called for other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The call by Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Andrea Thompson in Beijing comes as the U.S. is preparing to withdraw from a separate pact, the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and the former Soviet Union.  AFP

January 16, 2019

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Moscow was ready to work with Washington to save a key arms control treaty, after fresh talks to salvage the accord went nowhere.

"We are still ready to work to save the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty," Lavrov says, calling on Europe to help in the negotiations. — AFP

November 28, 2018

Russia says it still expects a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump to go ahead as planned.

Trump, in an interview, says he may cancel the sit-down with Putin in Argentina following Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian naval ships last weekend. — AP

November 28, 2018

US President Donald Trump has said he may cancel a long-awaited summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after a confrontation at sea between Russia and Ukraine led Kiev to warn of the threat of "full-scale war".

Trump is scheduled to meet Putin at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires at the end of this week, but warned it would depend on the results of a report being prepared by his national security advisers about Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian ships.

September 1, 2018

A senior Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him at a breakfast meeting two years ago that Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump "over a barrel," according to multiple people familiar with the encounter.

The lawyer, Bruce Ohr, also says he learned that a Trump campaign aide had met with higher-level Russian officials than the aide had acknowledged, the people said. — AP

August 9, 2018

The Kremlin slams as "unacceptable" US sanctions over Moscow's alleged involvement in a nerve agent attack in Britain, but says Russia still hopes for constructive relations with Washington. 

"We consider categorically unacceptable the linking of new restrictions, which we as before consider illegal, to the case in Salisbury," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells journalists, referring to the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal, adding that "Moscow retains hopes of building constructive relations with Washington."

Follow this thread for updates on US-Russia relations.

Photo: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) at the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland, May 19, 2021, on the sidelines of the Arctic Council Ministerial summit. SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP

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