Russia's Foreign Minister Says U.S. Should Stop Rallying Allies Against Them If Relations Are to Improve

A top Russian diplomat said Wednesday that the relationship with the United States is worse than during the Cold War because of a lack of mutual respect.

"During the Cold War, the tensions were flying high and risky crisis situations often emerged, but there was also a mutual respect," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Russian state television. "It seems to me there is a deficit of it now."

Lavrov said Moscow is ready to improve ties with Washington if the U.S. stops posturing like a "sovereign" rallying its allies against Russia and China.

He warned that if the U.S. rejects a mutually respectful dialogue on the basis of a balance of interests, "we would live in conditions of a 'Cold War' or worse."

Sergey Lavrov Russia Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) attend the main session at an international summit on securing peace in Libya at the Chancellery on January 19, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Lavrov now says the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is worse than during the Cold War. Sean Gallup-Pool/Getty Images

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Earlier this month, the Biden administration slapped Russia with sanctions for interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and for involvement in the SolarWind hack of federal agencies — activities Moscow has denied.

The U.S. ordered 10 Russian diplomats expelled, targeted dozens of companies and people and imposed new curbs on Russia's ability to borrow money. Russia quickly retaliated by ordering 10 U.S. diplomats to leave, blacklisting eight current and former U.S. officials and tightening requirements for the U.S. Embassy operations.

While ordering the sanctions, Biden also called for de-escalating tensions and held the door open for cooperation with Russia in certain areas.

Speaking in an interview with Russian state television, Lavrov noted that Moscow has had a "positive" attitude to U.S. President Joe Biden's proposal to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but added that Russia still needs to analyze all aspects of the initiative.

Lavrov said he would attend a meeting of top diplomats of the Arctic nations in Iceland set for next month and would be ready to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken if he also joins the meeting.