Russia on Tuesday warned that ties with the US faced the threat of “new aggravations” as talks on embassy staffing numbers ended with no breakthrough.
Officials led by US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland met in Moscow with Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Ryabkov.
Consular services at the US embassy in Moscow have been severely hindered after Russia banned the mission from employing local staff as part of tit-for-tat sanctions.
Ryabkov said that the talks had been “useful,” but added that the officials had failed to make progress on the functioning of missions, including visas and rotation of personnel.
“There is very little progress when it comes to the substantive part of the problems that exist,” Interfax quoted Ryabkov as saying. “There is a risk of new aggravations.”
“Americans are not heeding our logic or our demands,” the Russian Agency of International Information quoted Ryabkov as saying.
In a statement later on Tuesday, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Moscow did not want to escalate tensions, but warned Washington against further pursuing “confrontational” policies.
“We propose the removal of all restrictions that have been introduced on both sides over the past few years,” the ministry said.
In Washington, the US Department of State said that there was no breakthrough, but the two sides agreed to keep up lower-level talks.
“We expect parity on staffing numbers and we expect visa reciprocity,” department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. “There must be fairness, there must be flexibility on the Russian side if we are to achieve an equitable agreement.”
US senators have urged US President Joe Biden to threaten to expel Russian diplomats without progress.
The US complains that Russia had included local staff, now dismissed, among the numbers of US diplomats allowed in the country.
The two sides are embroiled in many disagreements, including over the conflict in Ukraine — which Ryabkov said was not discussed.
In May, Russia formally designated the US an “unfriendly state.”
Nuland arrived on Monday for a three-day visit that was to include talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov, the Kremlin said.
She was allowed into Russia despite previously having been placed on a sanctions list.
In exchange, Washington issued a US visa to a representative of the Russian foreign ministry.
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