Moscow Expects 'Russia Meddling’ Hoax to Grow Ahead of 2020 US Election – Russian Envoy to US

© REUTERS / Shannon StapletonAn electronic billboard displays a vote hashtag at Times Square in New York, U.S., November 7, 2016
An electronic billboard displays a vote hashtag at Times Square in New York, U.S., November 7, 2016 - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Moscow does not rule out that the hoax regarding alleged Russian meddling in the US democratic process will expand ahead of the 2020 presidential election season, Russian Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told Sputnik.

"We assume there are high chances that these concoctions about the ‘Russian meddling’ in the democratic processes will multiply, especially given the beginning of the electoral contest", Antonov said on Friday.

At a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan’s Osaka last week, US President Donald Trump jokingly told Russian President Vladimir Putin to please not interfere in US elections.

The comment came after years of controversy over claims by some in the US of Russia’s alleged meddling in the US 2016 presidential election won by Trump.

Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying it does not interfere in other states’ internal affairs.

Moscow Hopes Putin-Trump Talks in Osaka Will Yield Positive Results

Antonov also said that Moscow is hopeful that the positive atmosphere of the recent meeting between Putin and Trump would turn into concrete actions.

"We hope that the positive atmosphere that dominated at the meeting in Osaka will be converted into concrete actions and instructing the authorities to rectify the crisis situation in Russian-US relations", Antonov said Friday.

Antonov noted that US-Russian high-level meetings are vital since there are grave problems in bilateral relations that only the leaders of the two countries can address effectively.

"With regard to this, we are happy to state that the meeting between the presidents of Russia and the United States on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Osaka was held in a working and pragmatic atmosphere. Putin and Trump discussed the most pressing issues, including strategic stability, arms control, regional conflicts and activation of economic cooperation", Antonov detailed.

The ambassador noted the importance for Moscow and Washington, as permanent UN Security Council members, to both be involved in any settlement of modern threats and challenges on the basis of international law, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s affairs.

Antonov additionally noted that the current state of US-Russian economic cooperation "does not meet the interests of our countries".

The diplomat pointed out that bilateral trade and cooperation had been affected by US anti-Russian sanctions, and suggested that there remained multiple areas for cooperation between Moscow and Washington.

The ambassador expressed hope that US-Russia relations would stabilize and improve, saying that Moscow was ready to "make its part of the way" and expected Washington to take similar action.

Relations between the United States and Russia have been at what officials from both nations have regarded as the lowest point since the 20th century Cold War.

Moscow Expects Putin-Trump Talks to Re-Energize Strategic Stability Dialogue

Antonov also suggested that the recent meeting between Putin and Trump could help to activate the bilateral dialogue on strategic stability.

"We assume that as a result of the meeting between Russian and US presidents in Osaka, US officials have received required instructions from their president for activating dialogue on strategic stability", Antonov said.

The ambassador noted that a meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and Andrea Thompson, the US under secretary of state for Arms Control and International Security, which took place in mid-June in Prague, had also helped resume the bilateral talks on strategic stability.

Moscow expects the next meeting between Ryabkov and Thompson to be held on 17-18 July in Geneva, the ambassador said, noting that the sides would determine specific steps for resuming the dialogue, which is "important not only for our countries but the whole international community".

Russia has repeatedly said that that it was ready for cooperation with Washington for strengthening strategic stability, noting it expected the United States to seek this dialogue, too. The United States, in its turn, has also said its doors were open for the strategic stability dialogue with Russia.

US Lacks Constructive Approach on INF Treaty

Antonov also noted that Moscow cannot see the Washington's readiness to carry out constructive discussions on preserving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

"We cannot see the United States’ readiness to hold constructive discussions for preserving the INF Treaty. Our counterparts refuse to substantially discuss Russia’s concerns on the US way to observe this agreement. It has launched a powerful propaganda campaign, criticizing Russia’s actions allegedly aimed at building and deploying a missile whose characteristics are beyond the treaty", Antonov said on Friday.

The ambassador also noted some actions on the part of the United States to undermine the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

"We are ready to return to constructive dialogue with the United States. But we will not run after it. Our offers are on the negotiating table. The INF treaty’s fate is in the hands of the United States. Of course, we are sorry that this very important accord on the elimination of the two types of missiles would fade into oblivion and the world will face the beginning of an arms race in the area of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles", Antonov argued.

Both Moscow and Washington have repeatedly accused each other of the INF Treaty violation. The United States has been claiming that Russia allegedly tested and deployed the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile, arguing it has a range of more than 500 kilometers, which contradicts the treaty. Russia has denied the allegations and accused the United States of deploying of the Aegis Ashore MK-41 defence system which can be used to launch cruise missiles at prohibited ranges.

In February, the United States formally suspended its INF obligations, triggering a six-month withdrawal process. Earlier in July, Russian President Vladimir Putin enacted the suspension of Moscow's participation in the accord.

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