What is needed to resume positive dialogue between Moscow and Washington? - from regular briefing by Maria Zakharova

October 6, 2016

Question: Russia and the United States bear the utmost responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The world has every reason to be concerned with the current state of relations between the two countries. What is needed to resume positive dialogue between Moscow and Washington?

Maria Zakharova: I’m not sure whether you should address this question to us. For several years, we were surprised to read new aggressive remarks against Russia online, in the newspapers and on TV. We did not curtail any dialogue formats, nor did we withdraw from any existing bilateral or multilateral organisations. Everything that happened in the past few years took place on Washington’s initiative. This concerns the Russia-US Bilateral Presidential Commission and its work at various subgroups. There are many other examples.

I understand your concern for the future of the world perfectly well. But, as I see it, we should not forget that a presidential race is now underway in the United States, and that many statements are subordinated to the laws of the “pre-election genre,” so to say. I understand that all countries are horrified to read new White House statements on Syria and on cooperation with Russia. But try to analyse what is going on. Several days ago, our US colleagues stated absolutely openly, clearly and unequivocally that they were breaking off bilateral diplomatic dialogue with the Russian Federation on resolving the situation in Syria, and that they had stopped, ended and curtailed this dialogue. We have made our statements that we consider this to be mistaken and unconstructive.

A short time afterwards, Washington started voicing new narratives on this issue. It turned out that this only involved bilateral dialogue, and that the US side would continue to cooperate with Russia in multilateral formats to achieve a peace settlement for Syria. We took note and modified our positions. Later yet, we heard new narratives from Washington that they had temporarily suspended, rather than severed, bilateral cooperation with Russia on Syria, and that it can be resumed if Russia fulfils some new demands. We also took these new narratives into consideration. And US Secretary of State John Kerry unexpectedly called yesterday.

To my mind, we should react more calmly to what is now being said because many statements are being made solely in line with heated pre-election passions. They don’t reflect any short-term Middle East strategy, not to mention a long-term strategy. It appears that these spurts are due to the need to add some fire to the election campaign.

Source: Foreign Ministry of Russia