Moscow: Russia on Tuesday scrapped a meeting with a top Japanese minister in response to a new round of Tokyo sanctions against senior figures involved in the annexation of Ukraine`s Crimea peninsula.
Holding talks in Moscow later this month between the Russian and Japanese deputy foreign ministers "would be inappropriate against the backdrop of Tokyo`s latest anti-Russian sanctions," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It said the consultations have been "postponed" and that Tokyo had been informed of Moscow`s decision.
The meetings were expected to focus on a simmering territorial dispute that has hampered trade and kept Moscow and Tokyo from signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities.
Both the Kremlin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had hoped to start mending relations in order to revive trade, with the island nation seeking broader access to Russia`s plentiful oil and natural gas supplies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Abe in April 2013 for the two sides` first formal summit in Moscow in a decade.
The two leaders agreed to set in motion a series of high-level talks about Tokyo`s claim to the four southernmost islands in the Kuril chain that it still refers to as the Northern Territories.
The August 19 meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and his Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama was expected to zero in on the row.
Tokyo on Tuesday unveiled details of financial sanctions against 40 individuals and two groups involved in Russia`s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March and its perceived destabilisation of eastern Ukraine.
The decision freezes assets of those on the list and requires Japaneses businesses wishing to import products from Crimea to receive Tokyo`s approval.