U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan will return to the U.S. for “consultations” on how to proceed with diplomacy in Moscow, President Joe Biden’s administration announced Tuesday.
Sullivan, appointed under former President Donald Trump, announced the travel in a Tuesday statement. Russia already recalled its ambassador from Washington in March to consult with the Kremlin on how to address rising tensions between the two countries. The Russian decision came after Biden described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “killer” with no soul. (RELATED: Biden’s Intel Chief Releases 2020 Election Report Confirming Russian And Iranian Interference)
“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,” Sullivan said in a statement. “Also, I have not seen my family in well over a year, and that is another important reason for me to return home for a visit. I will return to Moscow in the coming weeks before any meeting between Presidents Biden and Putin.”
Biden vowed retaliation for Russia’s election meddling and SolarWinds hacking attack soon after gaining office. He authorized sweeping sanctions targeting Russian companies and individuals who played a role in the hacking attack Thursday. (RELATED: U.S. Determines Russia Responsible For ‘Most Or All’ Of Massive Federal Breach)
President Biden tells @GStephanopoulos that he once looked Russian President Putin in the eye and told him “I don’t think you have a soul” to which Putin responded “we understand each other.” pic.twitter.com/a3zIQ0uLcq
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 17, 2021
The U.S. also joined allies in levying sanctions for Putin’s attempted murder and imprisonment of political rival Alexei Navalny.
“The President signed this sweeping new authority to confront Russia’s continued and growing malign behavior,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said of the decision in a statement. “Treasury is leveraging this new authority to impose costs on the Russian government for its unacceptable conduct, including by limiting Russia’s ability to finance its activities and by targeting Russia’s malicious and disruptive cyber capabilities.”
“These actions are intended to hold Russia to account for its reckless actions,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken added in a separate statement last week. “We will act firmly in response to Russian actions that cause harm to us or our allies and partners. Where possible, the United States will also seek opportunities for cooperation with Russia, with the goal of building a more stable and predictable relationship consistent with U.S. interests.”
The Biden administration has also identified Ukraine as a flashpoint for conflict with Russia. Putin’s military has amassed some 80,000 troops along its shared border with Ukraine.