US-Russia ties worse than during Cold War, top diplomat warns

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Russia’s top diplomat has said that relations with the United States are now even worse than during the Cold War because of a lack of mutual respect.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow stands ready to normalise ties with Washington, but warned that the US should stop posturing like a “sovereign” rallying its allies against Russia and China.

He warned that if the US shuns a mutually respectful dialogue on the basis of a balance of interests, “we would live in conditions of a ‘Cold War’ or worse”.

“During the Cold War, the tensions were flying high and risky crisis situations often emerged, but there was also a mutual respect,” Mr Lavrov said in an interview with Russian state television. “It seems to me there is a deficit of it now.”

US secretary of state Antony Blinken

Earlier this month, the Biden administration hit Russia with sanctions for interfering in the 2020 US presidential election and for involvement in the SolarWinds hack of federal agencies — activities Moscow has denied.

The US ordered 10 Russian diplomats to be expelled, targeted dozens of companies and people, and imposed new curbs on Russia’s ability to borrow money. Russia quickly retaliated by ordering 10 US diplomats to leave, blacklisting eight current and former US officials and tightening requirements for the US embassy operations.

While ordering the sanctions, President Joe Biden also called for de-escalating tensions and held the door open for co-operation with Russia in certain areas.

Speaking in an interview with Russian state television, Mr Lavrov noted that Moscow has had a “positive” attitude to Mr Biden’s proposal to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but added that Russia still needs to analyse all aspects of the initiative.

Mr Lavrov said he would attend a meeting of top diplomats of the Arctic nations in Iceland set for next month and would be ready to meet with US secretary of state Antony Blinken if he also joins the meeting.

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