The bypassing of sanctions between the United States and Russia, and the tension in Ukraine, have brought relations between the White House and the Kremlin to their lowest levels in recent years with no signs of improvement in the near future.
“The main blow is from diplomats,” says Ivan Timofeev, an analyst at the Russian Council for International Relations, commenting on the Russian sanctions, which were announced yesterday in response to a similar move by the United States.
The expert recalls that in addition to expelling 10 US diplomats “symmetrically”, Russia also limits service fees for State Department representatives and bans the US embassy from employing the services of Russian citizens and third-country citizens, among other things.
Expel the ambassador?
In addition, Russia “ recommended ” the US ambassador, John Sullivan, to return to his country to consult with his superiors when announcing his round of sanctions in response to the restrictions imposed by Washington on Moscow due to cyber espionage and interference in Ukraine.
Timofeev wrote on Facebook, referring to the statement as “undesirable” to the head of the US mission in the USSR, George Kennan, in the midst of the cold war between the two countries.
At the same time, the Russian press asserts that the Vienna Agreement on Diplomatic Relations does not include the possibility of “sending an ambassador for return” to his country to consult with the authorities.
The sanctions are also expected to delay the return of the Russian ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, to Washington, who was summoned to Moscow for consultations a month ago after US President Joe Biden described his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, as a “murderer.”
According to the Russian expert in international relations, Fyodor Lukyanov, Moscow’s “recommendation” to Sullivan does not amount to the collapse of relations, but the dialogue between the two countries has no chance of prosperity at the present time.
Speaking to the Moscow Echo station, Lukyanov said that the US ambassador will not return to Russia until relations improve significantly.
Putin and Biden summit are in danger
The current exchange of sanctions between Russia and the United States calls into question the holding of a bilateral summit between the leaders of the two countries proposed by Biden during a recent phone conversation with the Kremlin president.
Moscow indicated that the proposal was initially received in a “positive” manner, but that it will now be analyzed in the context of the “real situation”.
The Kremlin had previously warned that the US sanctions would not contribute “in any way” to that meeting.
The previous summit between the leaders of both powers was held in 2018 in Helsinki, where Putin met then-US President Donald Trump.
A year ago, Russian-American relations suffered from their biggest diplomatic crisis when Moscow announced the expulsion of 755 employees from the US embassy and consulates in Russia.
The measure, in response to the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats during Barack Obama’s presidency, was postponed until Trump came to power when Moscow considered that the new tenant in the White House could undo the sanctions.
The new passage of sanctions again raises doubts about a possible improvement in relations between the two countries, which will nevertheless continue to cooperate on matters of global concern, according to several experts.
Thus, according to the director of the Carnegie Center in Moscow, Dmitry Trenin, bilateral cooperation will continue on issues such as prevention of armed clashes and nuclear disarmament, because these are issues of “vital importance.”
Meanwhile, Trenin told the Kommersant newspaper that there might be “partial” cooperation on other international issues such as the North Korean or Iranian problem.
In any case, everything will be fragmented and under a general climate of hostility. “There will be no widespread cooperation,” the expert said.
An analyst at the Russian Council on International Relations agrees with Trenin. Timofeev summarizes, “We are facing a new phase of deteriorating relations after the possibilities of resuming relations with the change of (American) administration have been exhausted.”