A worsening diplomatic standoff in Europe is one of the key issues to be discussed in talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart, Joe Biden, Moscow has claimed as tensions mount on the continent.
Speaking on Thursday as part of the Russian First Channel's 'Big Game' TV program, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov stressed that "contact is badly needed, we have multiplying problems. There is no progression on bilateral affairs, which are more and more spiraling into a phase of acute crisis."
Moscow has mooted the idea of staging talks between Biden and Putin. A date for the next conversation has not yet been agreed, however, the Kremlin says there is hope that it will take place by the end of the year.
Ryabkov added that "there is no mutual understanding on how we can de-escalate the situation in Europe, and so on."
The diplomat noted, however, that there are only isolated areas in which the Kremlin and White House are working bilaterally, including cybersecurity, dialogue on strategic stability, and the potential agreement of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
Ryabkov's remarks come amid strained relations between the Kremlin and White House over the situation at the Russian-Ukrainian border. On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Russia to de-escalate any aggressions against Kiev, or face "severe consequences." He alleged Putin had put in place the capacity to launch an offensive "on short order, should he so decide."
In late November, Ryabkov said Washington had made some assertions relevant to Russia, including some related to the ongoing situation in Ukraine. He said Moscow wanted to "explain in detail what is really happening and how." Russia has repeatedly rejected accusations that it wants to strike its neighbor.
The two presidents met in the Swiss city of Geneva in June in what was their first encounter since Biden's inauguration in January. However, hopes for improvements in Russian-American relations appear to have been dashed with the Kremlin saying that a return to constructive engagement will take a long time.