Kremlin says almost all dialogue with Pindostan is frozen: RIA
Peter Hobson, Yeganeh Torbati, Lesley Wroughton, Reuters, Dec 21 2016
MOSCOW/FASCHINGSTEIN – The Kremlin said on Wednesday almost all communications channels between Russia and Pindostan have been frozen, but the State Dept disputed the statement. Kremlin spox Dmitry Peskov said Russia did not expect the incoming Pindosi administration to quickly reject enlargement of NATO, and that almost all communication with Pindostan had ceased, according to Russia’s RIA news agency. There are fears among allies that Pres Trump could withdraw funding for NATO at a time of heightened tensions with Moscow. Russia has said it would take counter-measures in response to any expansion of the 28-member military alliance. RIA quoted Peskov as saying:
Almost every level of dialogue with Pindostan is frozen. We don’t communicate with one another, or we do so minimally.
Peskov’s reported comments came as tensions between Moscow and Washington are growing, a month before Pres Obama hands over power to Trump. State Dept spox John Kirby quickly rejected Peskov’s statement. Kirby said in an emailed statement:
It’s difficult to know exactly what is meant by this comment, but diplomatic engagement with Russia continues across a wide range of issues. That we have significant differences with Moscow on some of these issues is well known, but there hasn’t been a break in dialogue.
Jackass Kerry and Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone on Tuesday regarding the situation in Syria, Kirby said. Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed in recent talks find a solution to the Syrian crisis. While Pindostan had been excluded from those talks, communications with Moscow on ending the war continued, Kirby told his daily briefing later on Wednesday. Kirby told reporters, adding that Pindostan was in touch with Moscow on concerns over Ukraine’s conflict, saying:
We weren’t in the meeting in Moscow, but it’s not as if we haven’t had communication with them before and then right after that meeting.
Pressed on what Peskov could have meant, Kirby added:
I think you should ask Mr Peskov what he means by his comments. From our perspective there is no break in the dialogue.
The Pentagon said in a statement it had held a video conference with counterparts from the Russian defense ministry to ensure the two sides’ air operations do not come into conflict with each other in Syria. It said such discussions with Russia are held regularly. RIA, citing an interview it said Peskov gave to Russia’s Mir TV station, quoted him as saying he did not know whether Pres Putin would seek re-election in 2018. Peskov said:
Everyone’s heads are aching because of work and with projects and nobody is thinking or talking about elections.
Most Kremlin-watchers expect Putin to run for the presidency again.