Russia And The U.S.: To Talk Or Not To Talk

Moscow and Washington are attempting to work out how to communicate with each other after Joe Biden insulted Vladimir Putin.

Putin and Biden (talking) back in 2011
Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — Russia's ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, is back in Moscow, after having been recalled "for consultations," after U.S. President Joe Biden labeled Vladimir Putin as "a killer" in an television interview.

After his return Sunday, Antonov summed up the situation obliquely: "Russia is interested in relations with the U.S. to the same degree that the U.S. itself is interested."

At the same time, both Biden and Putin have expressed an openness to have direct talks, while the U.S. State Department announced that it's "ready to engage constructively" with Moscow when it corresponds to Washington's interests.

Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokesperson Maria Zakharova made it clear that it is pointless to talk about how long he will be in Russia. "How much time is needed for this? Precisely as much as the consultations themselves will take," she says.

Strange it wasn't Russian hackers...

According to Zakharova, Moscow is looking to determine "ways of straightening out Russian-American ties, which are in a grave state" and how not to let them fall into irreversible degradation." "The new American administration has been in power almost two months, and the symbolic boundary of 100 days is not far off, and this is a good reason to try and assess what's working out for Joe Biden's team, and what isn't," she says, calling on Russia to maintain a balanced approach to relations with the U.S.

The sharp-tongued Zakharova avoided open barbs toward Joe Biden, who has become the object of ridicule on social networks in Russia after stumbling three times Friday on the steps of Air Force One during heavy winds. The Russian Foreign Ministry press secretary permitted herself only a touch of light sarcasm: "Strange that it wasn't ‘Russian hackers'... but just the wind," she writes on Facebook.

Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokesperson Maria Zakharova — Photo: Russian Federation Council

The signals coming from Washington show that the American side has no interest in further escalation. Putin, meanwhile, has opted for a public stance of prudence. "I imagine that it would be interesting both for the people of Russia and the U.S., and also for other countries, taking into account that as the biggest nuclear powers, we have a special responsibility for strategic security on the planet," says Putin, urging Washington "not to put things on the back burner."

Putin said direct talks with Washington could focus on bilateral relations, strategic stability and regional conflicts, though he noted that Moscow would "work with them in those areas in which we ourselves are interested" and "they will have to reckon with this."

By putting the ball in Washington's court and setting an extremely short timeframe, Putin is forcing the Biden administration to react swiftly to Moscow's improvisation. "I'm sure we'll talk at some point," Biden replied when asked if he would agree to Putin's offer. It's worth noting, however, that neither side has mentioned any dates.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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