MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia has confirmed it will not attend the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, a gathering championed by President Barack Obama, accusing Washington of seeking to play first fiddle on matters of nuclear safety.
In another sign of the growing chill between the former Cold War rivals, Moscow claimed the organisers wanted to accord special rights to the United States along with South Korea and the Netherlands, which hosted previous summits, while discriminating other participants.
“We shared with our American colleagues our doubts regarding the added value of a forum that is planned to be held in the United States in 2016,” the Russian foreign ministry said.
It took issue with the fact that the final documents of the Washington summit would set the agenda for international organisations including the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency and Interpol.
“We believe it is unacceptable to create a precedent of such outside interference into the work of international organisations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
“Washington is trying to assume the role of the main and privileged ‘player’ in this field,” the foreign ministry said, adding that Russia would instead focus on its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The foreign ministry said Washington had been informed of Russia’s decision to withdraw from the summit in mid-October.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said earlier this week Washington regretted Russia’s decision not to participate in last week’s preparatory meeting for the Washington summit.
“As far as the United States is concerned, the door remains open to Russia joining future meetings like this,” Earnest said.
“And we certainly would welcome Russia making a tangible and constructive contribution to that effort.”
Moscow is locked in a confrontation with the West over its support for separatists in neighbouring Ukraine, with Washington and Brussels introducing several rounds of sanctions against Russia, the toughest punitive measures since the end of the Cold War.
President Vladimir Putin has remained defiant in the face of the growing diplomatic isolation, proclaiming Russia’s moral superiority and seeking to ramp up ties with Asia and Latin America.