US-Moscow ties nearly cut after Biden’s ‘war criminal’ remarks, Russia says

US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan speaks with journalists in Moscow, Russia Jan. 30, 2020. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

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March 21 (Reuters) – Russia’s foreign ministry said Monday it had summoned US Ambassador John Sullivan to tell him that President Joe Biden’s calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” had jeopardized bilateral ties on the edge of collapse.

President Biden last week said Putin was a “war criminal” for sending tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine. read more

“Such statements by the US president, unworthy of a statesman of such high rank, put Russia-US relations on the verge of severing,” the ministry said in a statement.

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The Kremlin previously described the comments as “personal insults” against Putin. read more

The ministry also told Sullivan that hostile actions against Russia would receive a “decisive and strong response.”

The US State Department has not confirmed the subpoena. But Deputy US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said in an interview on MSNBC that the statement reported by Russia “just shows how desperate President Putin is getting.”

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade the military capabilities of its southern neighbor and exterminate people it called dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have firmly resisted Russian forces and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow in an attempt to force the country to withdraw.

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Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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