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Russia summons US ambassador over election interference

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with the new US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan during a ceremony for newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on February 5, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Russia has summoned the US ambassador to Moscow over alleged interference by Washington in the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled to be held later this month.

Russian agencies, quoting an unnamed diplomatic source, reported that US Ambassador John Sullivan arrived at Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday after being summoned, adding that he stayed in the ministry for about 20 minutes and then left.

The source further noted that the meeting between Sullivan and Russian officials was held due to Russia suspecting the US of interfering in its elections.

Earlier, Russia’s news agency Interfax reported that Sullivan had been summoned over an issue with accreditations for Russian journalists working in the United States.

Some reporters from Russia were denied accreditations to attend 9/11 memorial events in New York, the agency said.

However, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said on Telegram later in the day that the reason for summoning Sullivan was US meddling.

“There is only one reason — interference in the Russian elections. We hope that this will be reported by US diplomats to Washington. And not the way it is written in the press release from the US embassy, completely out of touch with reality", Zakharova said.

This came after US Embassy spokesperson Jason Rebholz claimed that Sullivan had visited the ministry to meet Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to discuss a range of bilateral matters in support of President Joe Biden's desire for “a stable, predictable relationship with Russia.”

Diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington deteriorated in March, when Biden said he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin was a “killer,” prompting Russia to recall its ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, for consultations.

The diplomatic spat sank further after the Biden administration slapped a new round of sanctions against Russia, targeting the country’s sovereign debt and introducing other major financial and banking sector restrictions on Moscow.

More recently, tensions have risen between the two sides over a range of issues, including allegations of cyber attacks and election interference directed towards Moscow.

Although Russia has denied such allegations in the absence of any evidence, ties have remained sour.

Back in June, Putin and Biden sat down to have two rounds of meetings in a summit in Geneva despite tense Russia-US ties.

The summit was held to resolve pressing issues between Washington and Moscow.

The two leaders issued a joint statement at the time stressing that both nations plan to launch a comprehensive bilateral dialogue on strategic stability and begin consultations on cybersecurity and arms control.


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