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Russia says US ‘unpredictability’ causing ‘global concern’

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly with Dmitry Peskov, Sergei Lavrov, and Yury Ushakov. (en.Kremlin.ru/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Kremlin has lashed out over what Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says is the recent “unpredictability” of the United States, saying it was causing “deep global concern.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comments on November 14, two weeks ahead of an expected meeting between Putin and President Donald Trump during a summit of the Group of 20 (G20) in Argentina.

A July summit in Helsinki was the only full-scale meeting the two presidents have held since Trump, who has repeatedly said he wants relations with Russia to improve, took office in January 2017.

His term has been marked by persistent tension over issues including Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, its role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, its alleged meddling in the election he won, and the poisoning of a Russian double agent in Britain.

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“The fact that America has become unpredictable lately is no secret to anyone,” Peskov told Dozhd TV during a visit by Putin to Singapore for the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“Such unpredictability from the largest country, the most powerful economy in the world, is the subject of deep global concern,” he said.

Peskov did not specifically criticize Trump. Russian officials have repeatedly suggested that Trump wants better ties with Russia but is being thwarted by “Russophobic” opponents at home.

The United States and its allies accuse Russia of being behind the March nerve-agent attack on Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the English city of Salisbury.

Despite substantial evidence, Moscow denies any involvement in the poisoning, which led to additional U.S. and European Union sanctions on Moscow and to diplomatic expulsions of Russian and Western officials.

The United States earlier this month said it was eyeing fresh sanctions against Russia over the poisoning.

Repeating Russia’s public position on sanctions that have been imposed on it, Peskov said: “We do not recognize these unilateral restrictions…and we consider them illegitimate.”

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He said any new sanctions would only “further complicate” Russia-U.S. relations.

After the summit in Helsinki on July 16, Trump was widely criticized for not taking a harder line with Putin and for seemingly refusing to press him on several matters, including Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Trump is not attending the ASEAN summit and sent Vice President Mike Pence instead.

Peskov said that “no separate meeting” was planned between Putin and Pence. He said there was no need for such talks because Putin and Trump are to meet on the sidelines of the November 30-December 1 G20 summit in Buenos Aires.