Russia diplomat warns US of ‘uncomfortable’ signals ahead of summit

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The Biden administration should prepare to be made “uncomfortable” by Russian “signals” ahead of next month’s scheduled summit between the president and his Moscow counterpart, Vladimir Putin, a top Kremlin diplomat said Monday.

Reuters, citing the RIA news agency, reported that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Washington “should proceed from the premise that a number of signals from Moscow — and I am not talking here about the meeting at the highest level, I don’t know how it will proceed — are going to be uncomfortable for them, including in the coming days.”

Ryabkov did not elaborate on what “signals” he was referring to.

The White House announced last week that Biden and Putin would meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16. It will be the first summit-level meeting between Putin and an American president since he met with Donald Trump in Helsinki, Finland, in the summer of 2018.

In remarks at a Delaware Memorial Day remembrance event Sunday, Biden said he would raise the issue of human rights with Putin and make clear “that we will not — we will not stand by and let him abuse those rights.”

In response, Ryabkov said Monday that “the agendas of the US and Russia do not coincide, but we are traditionally ready to react to any issues raised by the American side. Unfortunately, the reciprocal readiness is observed less and more seldom.”

The Kremlin has said the summit will focus on “conditions and prospects for further fostering Russian-US relations, strategic stability matters as well as pressing issues on the international agenda, which include cooperation in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and settling regional conflicts,” according to the TASS news agency.

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Monday that Moscow plans to boost its military presence along its western border through the end of this year.

“Actions by our Western counterparts are destroying the global security system and prompting us to take reasonable countermeasures,” Shoigu was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. “We’re permanently upgrading the combat composition of our armed forces. About 20 military units and formations will be put together in the Western Military District by the end of the year.”

Relations between Russia and the US are at post-Cold War lows following the 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea, Putin’s crackdown on dissidents at home and his targeting them for assassination abroad, and Russian interference in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

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