US-Russia Relations from Reset to Retrograde
Russia on Wednesday suspended a three-year-old agreement with the United States on cooperation on nuclear and energy-related research — the latest move signifying a deteriorating bilateral relationship.
"It's frankly concerning," a senior U.S. official told VOA on condition he not be named.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday also signed a decree suspending an agreement with the U.S. on disposing weapons-grade plutonium, citing "unfriendly actions" by Washington — a reference to U.S.-led sanctions on Moscow for its actions in Ukraine.
Nullifying the plutonium pact is "a real tragedy because these are areas where we have successfully cooperated in the past," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said during Wednesday's daily briefing.
The United States has halted Syria cease-fire direct talks with Russia amid continuing military attacks against civilian targets, with the U.S. administration declaring its patience at an end with Moscow. However, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke again Wednesday about Syria.
Diplomats in both Washington and Moscow say the United States requested the call, which also covered the situations in Ukraine and North Korea.
Hurricane Matthew: More Than Two Dozens Dead in Haiti, Dominican Republic
Forecasters expect Hurricane Matthew to gain strength as it moves through the northern Bahamas on Thursday and heads for the southeastern U.S. state of Florida.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Matthew had sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour Thursday morning as the center of the storm approached Andros Island and Nassau. It warned of a dangerous storm surge and the possibility of at least 20 centimeters of rain.
The forecast track had Matthew going directly up the east coast of Florida on Friday after strengthening from a Category 3 to a Category 4 storm.
"Get out now," Florida Governor Rick Scott told people who live along his state's coast during a news conference Wednesday. "It could be the decision between life or death." Scott warned that people who were planning to leave should do so immediately, as highways are expected to be clogged with traffic as the storm edges closer.
The hurricane is reported to have killed at least 26 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic after slamming the island as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday, the strongest storm to make landfall in Haiti in 52 years.