Comment by the Information and Press Department on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Russia

The situation in Russia-US relations remains tense. A series of confrontational steps taken by Washington on the pretext of the Ukrainian crisis has damaged the cooperation between the countries. Since March 2014, the US has “frozen” the activity of the Bilateral Presidential Commission, restrained interagency dialogue, imposed several stages of visa and property sanctions against individuals and entities from Russia in violation of international law and withdrew the accreditation of the majority of Russia’s honorary consuls in the US in January this year. In 2015, bilateral trade between the countries decreased by almost 30 per cent to $20 billion.

Responding to these unfriendly actions, Russia has been consistently stressing the need to comply with the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs. We continue to cooperate with Washington in the areas where this cooperation meets Russia’s interests and serves to maintain global security.

Resolving the Syrian conflict occupies a central place in the Russia-US dialogue. Moscow has consistently supported political settlement in Syria pursuant to the principles of the 2012 Geneva Communique, the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) documents and UNSC Resolutions 2254 and 2268. As co-chairs of the ISSG, Russia and the US coordinated the agreement on the ceasefire in Syria, which entered into force on February 27. The agreement won global support and is being carried out under the joint coordination of the US and Russia, including their close cooperation in military matters.

As part of the Russia-US dialogue, both countries continue to discuss on a regular basis issues pertaining to a political settlement in Ukraine and the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. They also exchange opinions on other regional issues, including the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, developments in Afghanistan and the events on the Korean Peninsula.

Russia has consistently raised issues on the bilateral agenda focused on resolving problems that were created by Washington. We demand US law enforcement agencies cease their “hunt” for Russian citizens in third countries. We are pursuing the protection of the rights of our compatriots living in the US, particularly the rights of Russia-born foster children.

We continuously stress the need to maintain close Russia-US contact, including in tourism and culture, sports and academic exchange, and to build up mutual trust between our nations. We note the overall success of the implementation of the 2011 Russian-US agreement on simplifying visa formalities and propose further easing of travel restrictions.

We hope that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Russia, the third such visit in less than a year, will promote the normalisation of Russia-US relations, which largely influence the overall global political climate.