As new U.S. sanctions against Russia loom, the Kremlin has shut down — at least for now — intensive high level communications between top U.S. and Russian officials.
Since the invasion of Crimea, President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama have had regular phone calls in an often half-hearted attempt to deescalate the ongoing crisis inside Ukraine. But as the U.S. and EU prepare to unveil new sanctions against Russia, Putin has decided the interactions should stop. The Kremlin has ended high-level contact with the Obama administration, according to diplomatic officials and sources close to the Russian leadership. The move signals an end to the diplomacy, for now.
Other top U.S. officials are also now out of direct contact with their Russian interlocutors. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is also getting the cold shoulder from his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu. Pentagon officials have reached out to Russia on Mr. Hagel’s behalf within the past 24 hours but have not gotten any response, according to Pentagon Spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren.
That leaves the channel between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as the only semi-functioning high-level diplomatic channel between Washington and Moscow. But even that often-frosty relationship has further chilled as the two sides hurled insults and accusations this week.
After speaking over the phone Monday and then again Tuesday about the now defunct Geneva agreement on Ukraine, Kerry and Lavrov are now conducting diplomacy through the press—and leveling harsh and undiplomatic charges against one another.
Full article at The Daily Beast