Earlier on Monday, Russia informed the U.S. ambassador to Moscow that it had asked to meet with him to send him a “note of protest” regarding Biden’s criticisms of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
A harsh statement from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned that relations between Moscow and the United States may be completely severed as a result of Vice President Biden’s comments and steps taken by the United States government to punish Russia over its invasion of the neighboring Ukraine.
According to an English translation of the statement, the Russian-American relations are on the verge of collapse due to the statement made by the American President. “They made it clear that hostile actions against the Russian Federation would be met with a decisive and firm rebuff.”
During the recent military invasion of Ukraine, Biden has referred to the Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal,” “thug,” and a “murderous dictator” for what he has called the atrocities committed by Russian forces as they invaded the country for nearly four weeks.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it summoned U.S. Embassy spokesman John Sullivan and gave him a “note of protest” over the “unacceptable statements.”
Sullivan met with Russian officials a short time later, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price, who said the ambassador discussed the cases of U.S. citizens detained in Russia.
The Russian ambassador seized the opportunity of the meeting to request the Russian government to comply with international law, and basic human decency for that matter, and to allow consular access to all U.S. citizens detained in Russia, including those facing pre-trial detention, Price said during a briefing, declining to characterize the message the Kremlin sent Sullivan.
In response to the invasion, which has killed thousands and displaced millions in Ukraine, the United States and its allies have imposed crippling sanctions against Russian banks and elites.
In an off-the-cuff statement made to a reporter last week, Vice President Biden called Vladimir Putin a war criminal, after the White House had resisted before a legal process could be completed. As a result of the president’s assessment, Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged later that he personally agreed with him.
According to reports, Russia has launched attacks against Ukrainian civilian areas, including a theater and art school in Mariupol, and therefore, Putin is accused by the international community of committing war crimes. In the past, the Biden administration has expressed its stance on war crimes with regard to deliberate targeting of civilians.
It was announced last week by the White House that the U.S. has kept in touch with Russia largely through Ambassador Sullivan at the embassy in Moscow.
Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor, also spoke with a senior Russian official last week in an effort to warn against the use of chemical or biological weapons. This was the highest level of engagement between the two governments since the invasion began.