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Kremlin says almost all Russia-US dialogue 'frozen'

AFP , Wednesday 21 Dec 2016
Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at an annual meeting marking a professional holiday for Russian security service employees in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016 (Photo: AP)
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The Kremlin said Wednesday that nearly all the communication channels between Moscow and Washington were frozen, local media reported.

"Practically all levels of dialogue with the United States are frozen," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Mir TV, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

"We don't communicate with one another. Or we do so minimally."

Russia finds itself locked in its worst standoff with the West since the Cold War over its 2014 annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Ukraine and lingering disagreement about the conflict in Syria.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby assured later Wednesday that "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," Kirby said, adding that Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had spoken on the phone about the situation in Syria Tuesday.

The Obama administration on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining sanctions on Moscow over Crimea with new financial restrictions on Russian businessmen and companies.

The Russian foreign ministry said it "regretted" the new sanctions.

The White House this month also pointed to direct involvement by Russian President Vladimir Putin in cyberattacks designed to impact the US election.

The upcoming presidency of Donald Trump now casts doubt over the future of US policy towards Russia given his apparently softer line on Putin.

The Kremlin strongman has reiterated Moscow's readiness to work with the Trump administration once the president-elect takes office in January, stressing the importance of normalising the countries' relations.

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