Russia Isn’t Planning Any Contacts With Biden Yet, Official Says

A senior Russian diplomat said that his country hasn’t made contact yet with President-elect Joe Biden’s team and doesn’t plan to, reinforcing the Kremlin’s unenthusiastic approach to the new American leader.

Deputy Foreign Ministry Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow was put off by the experience in 2016, when the Russian ambassador to the U.S. came under a storm of criticism for his outreach to the incoming Donald Trump administration.

“We have refrained from making such contacts this time and don’t plan to” make them, he said in comments to the state-run Tass news service that he later confirmed by text message.

Ryabkov said there’s been no progress so far on extending the New START treaty, the last major nuclear accord between Russia and the U.S. The Trump administration has rebuffed a Russian offer to prolong the agreement, which expires in February, by 12 months. Biden has indicated he’s willing to extend it for 5 years as permitted under the treaty, which was signed in 2010.

President Vladimir Putin won’t congratulate Biden until all legal challenges by Trump have been exhausted and the Democrat is officially declared the winner, the Kremlin said earlier this week. Putin is one of a dwindling number of leaders who haven’t recognized Biden as the next U.S. head of state, along with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Ryabkov declined to comment on the controversy over the election outcome in the U.S., saying Moscow would work with whatever administration takes office on Jan. 20.

Russia, which was accused by U.S. intelligence agencies of intervening in 2016 to help get Trump elected, has been wary of Biden,fearing an increase in sanctions pressure and clashes over human rights and the post-Soviet space. Still, Moscow could find Biden easier to engage on some issues including arms control, climate change and the Iranian nuclear program, analysts close to the Kremlin say.

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