US working on reducing post-Soviet states dependence on Russia
The United States wants former USSR states to reduce their independence from Russia as enmity for Moscow grows.
The United States is trying to reduce the dependency of former Soviet states on Russia, US President Joe Biden's nominee for Russian Ambassador, Lynne Tracy, said Wednesday during a confirmation hearing as Washington tries to further isolate Moscow.
Tracy, inquired about Washington's stance on Armenia, said that since the Ukraine war broke out, she has been perceiving "a sense of real concern among other former Soviet countries about the future of their independence and sovereignty and territorial integrity,"
"The United States and our media, with the support of Congress, has thankfully been able to work on reducing some of those dependencies," the US ambassador to Armenia said.
Additionally, she revealed that the United States was having important conversations about how the United States would be able to help Armenia as it "continues to seek a more democratic and secure future."
This comes around three months after the chief of the Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Defense Forces of the Russian Armed Forces, Igor Kirillov, said the United States was planning on transferring its programs of biological research from Ukraine to post-Soviet republics, as well as Eastern European and Baltic states.
The Russian official underlined that Washington was working on putting its plans into high gear at the soonest time possible, noting that this would allow the US to develop and store components of biological weapons, which pose a threat to the security of Russia.
Russia and the United States have been undergoing major tensions for months, with Moscow accusing Washington of having biological laboratories in Ukraine and the latter denying it. Eventually, the US confirmed that it did have what Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland referred to as "biological research facilities".
"The Pentagon is poised to shortly relocate the programs unfinished in Ukraine to other post-Soviet states, as well as to Eastern European states, such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic states," Kirillov revealed.
New START treaty instrument of stability
Tracy underlined that the New START treaty was instrumental for peace between the United States and Russia, noting that the Biden administration would continue holding talks with Moscow to resume reciprocal nuclear arsenal inspections.
"I think having some ability to agree on the inspections for the verification is one measure that we can continue to pursue and I believe the administration, which was ready to meet to talk about resuming inspections, is still prepared to do. We see the treaty as an instrument of stability," Tracy added during her confirmation hearing.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Tuesday that Moscow would give Washington new dates for the talks on the New START Treaty.
"I emphasize that this is not a cancellation, but a postponement. After some time, we will offer the Americans new dates. But it will not happen instantly," Ryabkov told reporters, adding that it is unlikely that the discussions will take place before the end of the year.
The United States wanted to discuss only the issue of resuming inspections at the New START meeting in Cairo, while Russia had other issues as a priority, Ryabkov noted.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that his country had not received any clear explanation as to why Russia postponed the talks on the New START Treaty that were scheduled to take place in Cairo from November 29 to December 6, adding that the US wants to see talks with Russia take place as soon as possible.
US should keep tightening sanctions on Russia
Also according to the ambassador nominee, Washington should continue tightening the sanctions grip on Moscow, including the reduction of the federation's energy revenues.
"I absolutely agree that the right course is to stay the course on sanctions to continue tightening the sanctions [on Russia]," Tracy said. "One area… is reducing Russia’s energy revenues."
Western nations have been trying to find ways to reduce Russia's income from oil and gas exports since the start of the war in Ukraine. In September, the G7 finance ministers confirmed their intention to impose a price cap on Russian oil, urging all countries to support the initiative.
In October, the EU Commission confirmed an eighth sanctions package against Russia on Thursday, which involves both economic and personal restrictions.
The new package set a foundation for the G7's implementation of the potential oil price cap, with the EU Commission's statement relaying that the package "marks the beginning of the implementation within the EU of the G7 agreement on Russian oil exports. While the EU's ban on importing Russian seaborne crude oil fully remains, the price cap, once implemented, would allow European operators to undertake and support the transport of Russian oil to third countries, provided its price remains under a pre-set 'cap'."
An EU source told Sputnik earlier in the that the EU was likely to set the price cap for Russian oil at $62 per barrel.
The price cap will come into full force by December 5, when all the bloc's nations will have reached a formal agreement on the level of the price cap.
Baltic nations have recently expressed opposition at the idea that a price cap should be set above $50 per barrel.
They believe that the price remains too high and that could potentially fuel profits for Russia, thus harming Ukraine.