Russian foreign minister said he's yet to see anything formal on the offer
Lavrov keen to renew dialogue after poor relationship with US during Obama years
Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he has yet to see an agreement in which sanctions on Russia could be reduced in exchange for nuclear disarmament – but he is keen to start talks with the US.
President-elect Donald Trump has indicated that the trade restrictions imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea could be eased in return for a deal on weapons.
In a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday, Lavrov said he was aware of Trump’s comments, which were reported in Germany’s Bild newspaper and The Times of London.
“I did not see the proposal to disarm combined with the sanctions, but if we speak about nuclear weapons and strategic stability and strategic parity – this is exclusive between Russia and the United States and we understand that the elected president, the president of Russia, referred to the nuclear arsenals, I am convinced that for both us, one of the priorities and tasks would be to renew dialogue on strategic stability, which like everything else, was destroyed by the Obama administration,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov welcomed Trump’s approach to foreign policy.
“If we look at Donald Trump’s foreign policy, the most important will be the fight against terrorism,” he said.
“We welcome that,” he continued, noting that in the second term of President Obama’s administration, “our relations [with the US] were not friendly.”
The US and European Union both imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 – those sanctions were extended for a further six months in December 2016.
Trump suggested during the joint interview that they could be eased in return for a nuclear weapons deal.
“They have sanctions against Russia – let’s see if we can strike a few good deals with Russia. I think there should be less nuclear weapons and they have to be reduced significantly, that’s part of it.
“But there are these sanctions and Russia is suffering lots from it. But I think there are things, which lots of people can profit from.”
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said he’s prepared to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin after he takes office.
During his press conference, Lavrov signaled that Russia is keen to commence talks with the new administration as soon as possible.
The Obama administration sanctioned Russian entities and individuals, including officers of the Russian intelligence services last month, over their alleged interference in the American election.
The administration also ordered 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country.
But Lavrov told the press conference the expulsions of the diplomats had “no foundation.”