Washington’s envoy to Moscow will return to the United States for consultations, the U.S. embassy said on Tuesday, after Moscow “recommended” that ambassador John Sullivan temporarily leave amid soaring tensions.
“Ambassador Sullivan is returning to the United States for consultations this week,” the U.S. diplomatic mission in Moscow said in a statement sent to AFP.
“I believe it is important for me to speak directly with my new colleagues in the Biden administration in Washington about the current state of bilateral relations between the United States and Russia,” the statement quoted Sullivan as saying.
The announcement came amid a new spike in tensions between Moscow and Washington over a litany of disputes, including alleged meddling in U.S. elections, Russia’s troop build-up along Ukraine’s borders and the deteriorating health of President Vladimir Putin’s imprisoned critic Alexei Navalny.
US President Joe Biden is pursuing a tougher line against Putin but has also proposed that the two leaders meet for a summit in a third country later this year.
Sullivan said he would return to Moscow “in the coming weeks”, before any meeting between Biden and Putin. Moscow has said it is still studying the summit proposal.
Sullivan’s announcement came after Moscow recalled its own envoy from Washington for consultations in March and last week the former Cold War foes announced a wave of tit-for-tat sanctions and expulsions of diplomats.
On Friday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Putin’s top foreign policy aide, Yury Ushakov, had recommended that Sullivan leave for Washington to conduct “serious consultations”.
The U.S. last week 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.
Russia said it would expel U.S. diplomats and sanction U.S. officials in response.