US-Russia relations plummet further over Syria, Ukraine

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WASHINGTON - Already testy, relations between the United States and Russia plummeted Monday as Washington suspended diplomatic contacts with Moscow over failed efforts to end the war in Syria and Vladimir Putin put on hold a deal with the U.S. on disposing weapons-grade plutonium.

On the surface, the suspensions were unrelated. But both underscored deep mistrust and rising tensions between the former Cold War foes, who are increasingly at odds on a number of issues, particularly Syria and Ukraine. In the short term, the end of discussions on Syria deals a potential death blow to efforts to slow the civil war and begin negotiations on possible elections in the country that could mean the ouster of President Bashar Assad.

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