Russia has summoned the United States’ ambassador to Moscow over a “demonstration alert” urging U.S. citizens to avoid protests in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a move that Moscow called interference in its affairs.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry signaled its anger over the U.S. demonstration alert ahead of Saturday’s mass rallies that drew tens of thousands of demonstrators across more than 100 Russian cities. Western leaders have condemned what they called a harsh crackdown on protesters, calling for their immediate release.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov informed U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan that Moscow considers the safety alerts to be “direct interference in the internal affairs of our country,” Interfax reported Monday.
A U.S. mission spokeswoman, in response to earlier criticism from the Kremlin, told AFP that U.S. and other countries’ embassies and consulates around the world routinely issue safety messages to their citizens abroad.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told state media that Moscow is also investigating “how American social media giants participate in the interference in our internal affairs,” Interfax reported.
She accused the platforms of violating its own terms of services by failing to moderate “fake” posts related to the rallies.
Russia has stepped up accusations of U.S. meddling in its affairs in the wake of a U.S. intelligence assessment that Moscow mounted a social-media and fake-news campaign in support of former President Donald Trump in 2016.
Russia, which was recently blamed for a massive cyber breach of U.S. federal agencies, denies that it meddles in U.S. politics.
Russia Summons U.S. Envoy for ‘Harsh Talks’ on New Sanctions
Russia has summoned U.S. Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan for “harsh talks” after Washington widened economic sanctions and ordered diplomatic expulsions in retaliation to what it calls Moscow’s malign behavior, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced Thursday.
Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the ministry would like to speak with Sullivan less than an hour after President Joe Biden ordered restrictions on U.S. banks buying new Russian government debt, sent home 10 diplomats who include alleged spies and sanctioned 32 people with alleged ties to 2020 election interference.
“The U.S. ambassador has been summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry,” Interfax quoted Zakharova as saying to reporters before vowing an “inevitable” retaliation.
“The conversation will be harsh for the American side.”
The back-to-back announcements come two days after Biden called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin with an offer to hold a summit on neutral ground amid tensions over Russia’s troop buildup near Ukraine.
Zakharova reiterated at Thursday’s weekly briefing the Kremlin’s assertions that its military movements are non-threatening and placed the onus for deteriorating ties on the U.S.
“Washington must realize that it will have to pay a price for degrading bilateral relations. The responsibility for what is happening lies entirely on the United States,” she said.
“Such aggressive behavior will certainly receive a firm response and the retaliation to sanctions will be inevitable.”
Russian media reported Tuesday that the Kremlin had already summoned Sullivan to warn him about retaliation to the anticipated sanctions.
Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov has been in Moscow for nearly a month after being recalled following Biden’s televised remarks calling Putin a “killer.”
Antonov’s summoning for emergency talks on the future of U.S.-Russian relations was an unprecedented step in recent diplomatic history.