State Department releases scathing statement on Russia for canceling meeting over sanctions

The State Department on Wednesday released a statement chiding Russia for canceling a meeting over sanctions imposed by the US.

"Let's remember that these sanctions didn't just come out of nowhere," department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The Treasury Department on Tuesday announced that it was reinforcing existing sanctions on Russia in an effort to counter attempts to circumvent the sanctions.

Nauert noted that Treasury's reinforcement of sanctions was imposed "in response to Russia's ongoing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbor, Ukraine."

Also, amid an investigation into whether members of President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russian officials to swing the 2016 election, the Senate last week passed a measure that would increase sanctions on Russia and require Trump to obtain congressional approval before easing existing sanctions on the country.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine in 2014 and still refuses to return to the territory to Ukraine.

"If the Russians seek an end to these sanctions, they know very well the US position: Our sanctions on Russia related Russia's ongoing aggression against Ukraine will remain in place until Russia fully honors its obligations under the Minsk Agreements," the statement said, referring to the agreement that's meant to end the conflict in Ukraine. "Our sanctions related to Crimea will not be lifted until Russia ends its occupation of the peninsula."

Russia announced Wednesday that it was canceling talks between Russian and US officials on how to improve relations between the two countries. The meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Raybkov and US Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon was supposed to take place in St. Petersburg.

The Kremlin also said Wednesday that it is considering imposing retaliatory sanctions on the US.

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