Published: Tue, April 20, 2021
Science | By

U.S. ambassador to Russian Federation set to return home for talks

U.S. ambassador to Russian Federation set to return home for talks

In a statement on Tuesday, Sullivan said he would return to the USA for "consultations" amid deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is now on hunger strike in a penal colony east of Moscow, with his doctors warning he could die "any minute".

Navalny went on hunger strike on March 31 to protest against what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to provide him with treatment for leg and back pain.

Russia's prison service insisted his condition was "satisfactory", despite moving him to the medical facility, and said he was taking vitamin supplements as part of his treatment.

National security adviser Sullivan and his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev spoke by phone on Monday, touching on the possibility of a summit that Biden has proposed to Putin.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc held the Russian authorities "responsible for the health situation of Navalny" as Foreign Ministers from its 27 nations held virtual talks.

There was no immediate reaction from the Kremlin, but the Russian ambassador in London, Andrei Kelin, said Navalny "will not be allowed to die in prison".

The Kremlin dismissed the outcry from foreign leaders over the condition of the 44-year-old, who last year came close to death after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok.

"The health of convicts in the Russia Federation can not and should not be a topic concerning them", said Mr. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The US on Thursday announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what the White House says is the Kremlin's US election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.

The EU in October sanctioned six Russian officials over the assassination attempt, Borrell noted, and in February sanctioned another four individuals over Navalny's arrest and sentencing.

Sullivan said he would be returning to Moscow "in the coming weeks before any meeting between Presidents Biden and Putin".

Earlier, his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian also said the bloc was watching Navalny's situation closely, as he warned of possible further sanctions against Russian Federation.

Navalny's team has called on supporters to take to the streets on Wednesday - when Putin is due to deliver his annual state of the nation address - to protest how he is being treated.

Borrell said that more than 150,000 Russian troops were now massed along Ukraine's borders and in the annexed Crimea peninsula.

Kiev has been battling Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014 and clashes intensified early this year, effectively shredding a ceasefire agreed last July.

The American ambassador to Russian Federation is returning to Washington for "consultations" after a new round of sanctions imposed on Moscow last week by President Biden, including the expulsion of 10 us diplomats - a move quickly followed by reciprocal measures from the Kremlin. Two people were found dead at the depot after the initial blast.

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