Russia willing to ‘get closer’ to US under Biden but tensions run high amid Navalny arrest

Russia: Alexei Navalny supporters protest in Moscow

A spokesman for the Russian Government said Vladimir Putin, the country’s president, would respond in kind if Joe Biden expressed a willingness to talk. President Biden has taken over from Donald Trump, who left US relations with Russia at their lowest point since the Cold War, Reuters reports.

The two world powers are at odds over issues such as allegations of Russian attempts to interfere with US elections, which it denies, Russia’s role in Ukraine, and the recent arrest of anti-Putin activist Alexei Navalny.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, told Russian TV yesterday, according to Interfax news agency: “Of course, we count on success in setting up a dialogue.

“This will be the dialogue where, of course, differences will have to be stated to a greater extent, points of differences.

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“But at the same time, a dialogue is a possibility to find some rational kernels, the little parts where our relations are getting closer.”

The two nations are also in talks over the extension of the New START arms control agreement before it expires next month.

The agreement was signed by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.

READ: Russia chaos erupts in Moscow as furious anti-Putin protesters clash with armed police

It means each country has to limit their nuclear warhead deployment to 1,550, while also requiring site inspections to make sure both nations are following the rules.

Washington has proposed the treaty be extended for five years, though Mr Peskov has said Russia needs to look over further details before it can agree, according to AP news agency.

Meanwhile, following the arrest of Alexei Navalny just over a week ago, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement: “The United States strongly condemns Russia’s decision to arrest Alexei Navalny.

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“Confident political leaders do not fear competing voices, nor commit violence against or wrongfully detain political opponents.

“We urge the Russian government to provide a level playing field for all political parties and candidates seeking to compete in the electoral process. Alexei Navalny is not the problem.”

Rallies in support of Mr Navalny have hit Russia in recent days numbering in the tens of thousands, according to the BBC.

However, the Kremlin has maintained only “a few” turned out, and hit out at Western countries for “encouraging” the unrest.

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