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US Needs to Keep Lines of Communication Open With Russia to Achieve Some Stability, State Dept Says

© AFP 2023 / MLADEN ANTONOVThis photo taken on May 7, 2013 shows Russian and the US flags running up as the US Secretary of State arrives at Moscow Vnukovo Airport
This photo taken on May 7, 2013 shows Russian and the US flags running up as the US Secretary of State arrives at Moscow Vnukovo Airport - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.04.2021
Earlier this week, a senior Biden administration official said US and Russian officials would meet to discuss and clarify their respective positions regarding sanctions that have further strained the relationship between the two countries in recent weeks. At the time, the official claimed Washington does not wish to escalate tensions with Moscow.

Ned Price, spokesperson for the US Department of State, told reporters on Thursday that the US "would like to be both stable and predictable" when it comes to bilateral relations with Russia. 

"We know that an ingredient to seeing that through is engagement," he said, noting Washington remains hopeful that avenues for engagement - or communication - with Moscow will not be "shut off." 

Price also revealed that the State Department has received some, but not all, information about additional actions that Moscow "is choosing to impose on our mission to Russia."

"We are in the process of reviewing the measures that have been formally relayed to us," he said, adding that the State Department believes the actions will "have a negative impact on our mission's ability to operate." 

He highlighted that the US reserves the right to respond to these actions. 

Price argued that US President Joe Biden's imposition of sanctions against a number of Russian entities and individuals was a response to their alleged interference in the 2020 US presidential election, and their purported involvement in a cyber attack that exploited the SolarWinds platform.  

The Kremlin has denied such allegations, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that the US' continued anti-Russian sanctions could escalate tensions to a "Cold War" level.  

Later in the Thursday briefing, the State Department spokesperson revealed that the US is also prepared to respond to what he described as "the Russian government's long-running campaign against independent media and voices." 

He also expounded on the US' stance on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) - a US-funded media outlet that was recently fined more than $900,000 after Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor identified nearly 400 administrative violations. The violations related to the organization's refusal to label its content as that of a foreign agent as required by law. The purpose of the law is to inform Russian readers that content shared by such media may be pursuing the interests of foreign countries.

RFE/RL has since filed a lawsuit against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights. 

"Should the Russian government continue to move to forcibly shut down RFE/RL, we will respond," he asserted, just a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he had spoken with Lavrov concerning the situation.

The Russian foreign minister told Sputnik in an interview that bilateral relations between Russia and the United States likely would have been normalized already if it were up to Moscow. Lavrov stated that the first step towards a normalization in bilateral relations would be the mutual lifting of restrictions on diplomats in Moscow and Washington, adding that Russia made such an offer to the Biden administration as soon as it took office.

At the same time, the Russian foreign minister stressed that Moscow is ready to act if its so-called red lines are crossed.

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