The United States has announced its intention to treat Russia as a full participant in the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, defying ongoing efforts to isolate Moscow due to its invasion of Ukraine.
The decision comes as Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk, representing Russia, steps into the spotlight in the absence of President Vladimir Putin.
Despite Overchuk being subject to various Western sanctions, including those from the European Union, the State Department’s Matt Murray, overseeing APEC, emphasized that Russia’s representative would be treated as the head of the delegation, with full participation in the week’s events. Murray clarified that the decision aligns with the U.S.’s commitment to being “good hosts” while adhering to domestic laws and regulations.
Acknowledging the limitations imposed by sanctions, Murray conceded that Overchuk would not enjoy the same diplomatic protocol as heads of state and government attending the summit, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, set to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden.
The United States, aiming to stabilize relations with China, expresses optimism about finding limited areas of cooperation. In stark contrast, U.S.-Russia relations remain strained since Putin’s defiance of warnings and the subsequent invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, prompting substantial Western assistance to Kyiv. Putin, facing an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, opted out of summits in South Africa and India this year but recently visited China.
The State Department, having publicly stated its reluctance to welcome Putin in San Francisco, has maintained its position, leading Russia to assert that APEC members should independently determine their representation. The unfolding diplomatic dynamics at the APEC summit reflect the intricate balance between global cooperation and geopolitical tensions.