US to continue diplomatic ties with Russia: State Dept.
Iran Press TV
Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:13PM
The US government will continue its diplomatic ties with Russia, says the US State Department, rejecting the Kremlin's remarks that almost all communication channels between the two sides were "frozen."
"It's difficult to know exactly what is meant by this comment, but diplomatic engagement with Russia continues across a wide range of issues," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement on Wednesday.
"That we have significant differences with Moscow on some of these issues is well known, but there hasn't been a break in dialogue," he added.
Kirby's remarks were a response to an earlier statement by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said mutual ties with the White House were marred by "an extreme degree of distrust."
"With the United States, nearly all levels of dialogue are in a frozen state. We do not communicate with each other or do it minimally," Peskov told the MIR television network, adding, "President [Vladimir] Putin has consistently advocated for a way out of this state."
Ties between Washington and Moscow further soured after the US Treasury Department on Tuesday blacklisted several Russian companies and individuals over their alleged connection to the Ukrainian crisis and the 2014 reunification of the Crimean peninsula with the Russian mainland.
The Treasury said the sanctions were against eight Russian infrastructure, shipping and construction companies that have ties to projects in and near Crimea.
The Treasury further named 26 subsidiaries of Russian Agricultural Bank and gas producer Novatek, both of which had already been sanctioned in 2014.
Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17, 2014, and formally applied to become part of Russia following a referendum in which 96.8 percent of participants voted in favor of the secession.
Since then, the US and some other Western countries have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia over accusations that Moscow has been involved in the crisis in Ukraine, which broke out when Kiev launched military operations to crack down on pro-Russia forces in the east.
The two countries have also been at loggerheads with each other over the years-long crisis in Syria, where Russia supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the US sides with militant groups fighting his government.
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