- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2018

A member of Moscow’s delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos accused U.S. participants of “hiding” from Russian representatives amid tensions surrounding looming sanctions.

“Americans are hiding from us in Davos,” Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said during a panel discussion at the forum Wednesday, Bloomberg reported. “It’s a small village, but they don’t want to talk.”

“It’s not Russia that’s hiding from dialogue, and not Russia that’s closed,” Mr. Dvorkovich added, according to state-owned media.

The deputy prime minister’s comment came as the Trump administration weighs a new round of sanctions targeting wealthy Russians tied to President Vladimir Putin in response to his nation’s role in the 2016 White House race. The U.S. Treasury Department is slated to send the list of sanctioned oligarchs to Congress by Jan. 29, likely adding several Kremlin allies to the growing list of Russian entities blacklisted by Washington.

Mr. Dvorkovich shrugged off the sanctions during Wednesday’s discussion and labeled the topic “an insignificant issue,” attendees reported.

“Sanctions aren’t the most important thing in the world,” Mr. Dvorkovich said, Bloomberg reported. “It’s a minor issue that we should not spend too much time discussing. We should work more and more efficiently.”

Speaking to Russian television, however, Mr. Dvorkovich appeared to doubt whether it was worth discussing matters at all with Washington.

“Any discussion with our American colleagues make no sense and they steer clear of dialogue,” he told Russia’s NTV TV Channel, state-owned media reported. “Probably, they are afraid of an open dialogue. I think they do not have anything particular to say.”

The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Mr. Putin authorized a state-sponsored interfere campaign targeting the 2016 election and particularly Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for president. The Obama administration retaliated by seizing compounds from Russia and expelling dozens of alleged diplomats, and President Trump signed a bipartisan bill in August imposing sanctions on Russia, albeit begrudgingly.

“This bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate,” Mr. Trump said in a signing statement. “By limiting the executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people and will drive China, Russia and North Korea much closer together.”

Mr. Trump arrived Thursday in Davos and is scheduled to address fellow leaders Friday.

Russia has denied meddling in Mr. Trump’s election.

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