No Plans for Obama to Visit Russia Before G20 Summit

MOSCOW, February 1 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama is unlikely to visit Russia until September, when he is due to attend the G20 leaders’ summit in St. Petersburg, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

“A separate visit [by Obama] is not on the agenda now. The [US] president has a standing invitation, though no date has been fixed,” Peskov said.

Kommersant business daily reported earlier on Friday that Obama has no plans to pay a separate visit to Russia in summer as previously expected because the sides have reached no breakthrough in the sphere of arms reduction.

Meanwhile, diplomats hope that Russia and the United States will be able to break the deadlock during the upcoming talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Vice President Joe Biden in Munich on Saturday, Kommersant reported.

US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon is also expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in February to negotiate a nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Russia maintains that there are no plans for the reduction of its nuclear weapons arsenal until the missile defense problem is settled.

But Obama’s visit is becoming increasingly unlikely as relations between the two countries have been recently strained by a series of diplomatic tit-for-tat moves.

Late last year, Washington angered the Russian government by introducing the so-called Magnitsky Act, a law imposing sanctions against Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses. The law was named after Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblowing lawyer who died in a Moscow jail in 2009.

Russia responded by banning US citizens from adopting Russian children and prohibiting politically active Russian nongovernmental organizations from accepting financing from the United States.

In mid-December, Yury Ushakov, a foreign policy adviser to President Vladimir Putin, said Obama could visit Russia in the first half of 2013.

Obama’s planned visit will be his first trip to Russia since he secured a second term in November. The US leader promised to show more “flexibility” in a dispute over US missile defense plans in Europe after his re-election.

Russia insists that the US set out its assurances that the missile shield will not be directed against it in legally binding documents, something Washington has refused to agree to.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that there is no “flexibility” in the dispute over US missile defense plans, warning that a new arms race could emerge if talks fail.

“There is no flexibility. We have not changed our previous positions – the United States has one opinion and the Russian Federation, unfortunately, has a different opinion. And these positions are not getting any closer,” Medvedev said according to a transcript of the CNN interview, released by Medvedev’s office.


Updated with corrected quote in 2nd paragraph.

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