17 November 2018
Moscow: 12:13
London: 09:13

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258 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     250 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

31.08.2017

Newly-appointed Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov in an interview with Kommersant newspaper

Question: What do you feel as you depart for Washington? Are you concerned about the close attention given by the US establishment and media to your predecessor, Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who was referred to as “the toxic ambassador”?

Anatoly Antonov: I am going to Washington to work. The main mission for any ambassador is to uphold and protect the interests of his country. The ambassador must be ready to do this under any circumstances and regardless of the situation in the interstate dialogue with the host country.

Unfortunately, Russia-US relations have seriously deteriorated over the past few years because of the actions taken by the previous US administration, which was set to undermine the foundations of Russian-US cooperation that took a very long time to create. As President of Russia Vladimir Putin said repeatedly, this was not our choice. We have always wanted to maintain constructive interaction with Washington on all issues on the bilateral and international agendas.

Moscow appreciated US President Donald Trump’s resolve to improve Russia-US relations, which he outlined back during his election campaign. However, the atmosphere, not to mention the quality of bilateral relations can only improve if joint work is based on the fundamental principles of equality, real respect for the partner’s interests and non-interference in the partner’s internal affairs, without any attempts to blackmail or force one’s will on the partner.

Question: Why, contrary to what many people expected, nothing has come out of attempts to start a dialogue with the new US administration?

Anatoly Antonov: It is no secret that the dialogue with the current US administration is hard-going. On the one hand, this is the effect of the difficult legacy left behind by Barack Obama’s team. On the other, there are persistent attempts by certain forces in the Washington establishment to play the Russian card in domestic political infighting, including by endlessly feeding the insinuations about our supposed “interference” in last year’s US elections and other slanderous charges.

Of course, this stands in the way of interaction and creates a far from simple background for Russian diplomatic operations in the US. We cannot call normal a situation, where the media present the usual, routine contacts maintained by the embassy heads and staff as spying, our diplomats are expelled en masse from the country without being given any official reasons, and Russian diplomatic facilities are expropriated in violation of international law.

The recent US law designed to boost the sanctions pressure on Russia is also a reflection of the “overheated” political situation in the United States and the hyperactivity of the Russophobic lobby. This is a serious blow to bilateral relations and chances for productive cooperation.

For our part, we have repeatedly stated that we do not yield to emotions; we display restraint, despite all the difficulties, and remain open to looking for points of contact and moving forward with a degree of intensity acceptable for the US administration.

On July 28, the Americans were advised of the need to bring, by September 1, the number of their diplomatic staff in Russia, including the locally hired Russian employees, in full conformity with the number of Russian diplomats and technical staff on long-term missions in the US. This means that they will have to cut their staff, whose number exceeds 1,200, to 455 persons. We have also reciprocated by suspending, as of August 1, the US Moscow Embassy’s use of its Serebryany Bor dacha and a warehouse in Dorozhnaya Street.

The US decision of August 21 to impose restrictions on the issue of non-immigration visas is regrettable and puzzling. On the same day, this step was clearly and succinctly assessed by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who said that the main reason for this decision was not the technical problems confronting the highly professional and well-equipped US consular service but clearly considerations of political nature.         

It is high time to stop; anti-Russian actions cannot be multiplied ad infinitum. For the Russian missions abroad, it will be business as usual and they will perform their functions in full.

We hope that common sense and the understanding that all attempts to pressurise our country are futile will gain the upper hand in Washington. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Russia and the United States possess the biggest nuclear potentials and have particular responsibility for global stability and security. The world is calmer and safer when we act together on the international arena.

Bilateral cooperation on the most pressing international issues is still of much importance, including cooperation in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, organised crime and the cyber threat. On the whole, our two countries would equally benefit by creating more interactive cooperation that would ensure predictability, rule out unpleasant surprises, minimise opportunistic behaviour, and make it possible to ward off tensions in good time.

As for the Russian Embassy in Washington and all other Russian diplomatic missions in the United States, it ill becomes diplomats to take fright at or fear anything, no matter what our working conditions are. We will consistently work to implement Russia’s foreign policy and the guidelines of its leadership.   

Question: You have the reputation of a tough negotiator who firmly upholds national interests. As far as we know, you were approved for the post of ambassador to the United States back when everyone in Russia and the United States believed that Hillary Clinton would replace Barack Obama as US president. Does the fact that Moscow has not revised this decision when Donald Trump won the presidential election mean that Russia needs an ambassador like you in any case?

Anatoly Antonov: Under Russian law, the appointment and withdrawal of ambassadors is a presidential prerogative. The procedure is clear: the foreign minister submits his proposals, the concerned committees of the Federal Assembly hold consultations, and the application is made to the host country. In my case, all these formalities took place after the US presidential election.

I will work steadily, professionally and openly to stabilise and subsequently improve Russian-US relations jointly with my colleagues in Moscow and Washington. Our relations must be equal, pragmatic and mutually beneficial and based on mutual respect. I will do my best to convince the Americans that we are not enemies and that we must become partners working in the interests of Russia and the United States.

Question: Can Russian-US relations improve if US sanctions against Russia are not lifted?

Anatoly Antonov: The Russian leadership has commented on this issue more than once. First of all, unilateral restrictions violate international law and are a double-edged sword. These restrictions are affecting us in some areas, but not more than they are affecting US exports, which Donald Trump has pledged to stimulate in order to create new jobs.

Russian-US trade has decreased by almost one-third, from $29 billion in 2014 to $20 billion in 2016, due to an unfavourable market situation and the sanctions. But the biggest damage has been done to US exports rather than to Russian consumers. We have even benefitted from this situation by enhancing domestic production and boosting trade with other countries. The US companies that were ordered by the US authorities to curtail promising projects in Russia were hit the hardest, for example, ExxonMobil that has invested $10 billion in Arctic shelf oil projects.

The US business community sent the largest delegation to the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2017: it included representatives from 140 companies.

Russia has never asked and will not ask for the sanctions against it to be lifted, although it is obvious that the sanctions are evidence of an unfriendly attitude to our country.

At any rate, Russia and the United States will only develop effective cooperation if pressure, blackmail and attempts to force one’s will on the other party are removed from their dialogue. The ball in this game is in Washington’s court.

Question: The US media recently discussed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s “three-point plan” to improve relations with Russia. What do you think about this plan?

Anatoly Antonov: The media reported that the US Department of State had prepared or was working on this secret document in late June, before a meeting of the Russian and US presidents in Hamburg. It allegedly contains a request to Russia to avoid “aggressive actions” against US interests, to engage on issues that are of strategic interest to the United States, such as the civil war in Syria and North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, and to work jointly towards mutual geopolitical goals in the sphere of strategic stability.

I don’t think I need to comment on or assess this information. Diplomats don’t work with leaks and speculation. They only work with official information that is provided orally at meetings and talks or in the form of documents. We have not received any information from Washington about the reported three-point plan to normalise relations with Russia.

By the way, back in March we sent a document to our American partners with our ideas on possible ways to improve the atmosphere in our relations in the context of preparations for our presidents’ meeting. That document focused on the areas where we have coinciding interests and where we could therefore achieve practical results very quickly. Apart from counterterrorism, Russia and the United States could also coordinate their efforts to fight other threats and challenges, such as illegal drug trafficking, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cybercrime.

If there was a constructive approach on both sides, we could do a great deal for the settlement of regional crises, including the Palestinian-Israeli, Yemeni, Libyan, Afghan and Syrian crises. At the same time, we should remove the arbitrary and random elements that are complicating our interaction and get rid of the numerous irritants in our bilateral relations.

We discuss these questions with our American partners, but it is a fact that the new Washington team’s views on many international issues have not yet taken final shape. We also need to factor in the complicated internal political situation in the United States. Anyway, we will only be able to return our relations to a sustainable development trajectory if our dialogue is based on the principles of equality and real respect for each other’s interests.

 

To be continued...




LATEST EVENTS

13.11.2018 - Embassy’s statement concerning Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London

We have taken note of Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London on 12 November, of which a significant part was dedicated to Russia. Unfortunately, we did not hear any “new approach” to Russian-British bilateral relations, mentioned in the British media a day before. A number of unsubstantiated accusations against Russia were again put forward by the Prime Minister, ranging from “attacks to undermine international security” to the “use of a chemical weapon on British streets”. The statement that the UK “remains open to a different relationship with Russia” was, in line with the traditional British style, made conditional on a number of categorical demands. For our part, we have been pointing at the unsatisfactory state of bilateral affairs for a long time. Russia and Britain are in an urgent need of genuinely equal, mutually respectful and result-oriented cooperation, befitting two Permanent Members of the UN Security Council sharing a special responsibility for global affairs.


06.11.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning new claims on alleged links between members of the Russian community in the UK and intelligence services

Question: How would you comment on the claims in the British media that “half of the Russians in London are working for Russian intelligence”? Answer: Those publications are based on a report by “Henry Jackson Society”, an organisation that does not hide its anti-Russian position. But even this superficial and irresponsible report has been distorted by the media affiliated with the current Conservative government for the sake of sensation and a further increase of Russophobic sentiment in the British society. A non-committal phrase – “Reflecting the level of paranoia within London’s Russian community, interviewees and interlocutors suggested that anywhere between a quarter and a half of Russian expats were, or have been, informants” has been transformed by the media into a categorical statement: “The study said there were as many as 75000 Russian informants in London”.


01.11.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning “An Invisible Chain” speech by the UK Foreign Secretary

Q: In his speech at the “Policy Exchange” think tank UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has dwelled on the shifts in the global balance of power. Do you agree with his assessment? A: We believe Mr Hunt’s view on the trends in global development is right in principle. The centre of the economic power shifts to the East, the BRICS countries as well as a lot of Asian economies are on the rise, and with economic power comes greater political influence. The speech reflects growing awareness in the UK political classes that the place and role of the West in the shaping of the international order is in decline. The world is changing rapidly, and the UK will have to adapt to the new reality.


01.11.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the statement by UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations Karen Pierce on Ukraine

Q.: At the UN Security Council Briefing on 30 October UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations Karen Pierce claimed general elections in the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic to be illegitimate and a clear breach of the Minsk Agreements. How would you comment on this statement? A.: The elections in the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic scheduled for November 11 are held to fill the power vacuum after the assassination of Alexander Zakharchenko, which cast suspicion on Ukrainian destabilizing activities in the east. This murder must not result in a halt to daily life in the region, people in Donbass need to carry on with their lives, making ends meet under constant blockade and the threat of the use of force from Kiev. The proposed elections have no bearing on the Minsk agreements, which pertain to municipal elections.


31.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the statements by Prime Minister Theresa May in Norway

Q.: On 30 October UK Prime Minister again claimed that Russia “deployed chemical weapons” in Britain. How would you comment on this statement? A.: We strongly reject these insinuations. Another portion of accusations of Russia is a far cry from reality.


29.10.2018 - Joint Statement by China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States

We, the nuclear weapon States recognized by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, reaffirm our commitment to the Treaty, in all its aspects, fifty years since its signature.


28.10.2018 - Joint Statement by the Presidents of the Republic of Turkey, the French Republic, the Russian Federation and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

President of the Republic of Turkey H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the French Republic H.E. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Russian Federation H.E. Vladimir Putin, and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany H.E. Angela Merkel gathered in Istanbul on 27 October 2018 for a Quadrilateral Summit on Syria.


26.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning publications on cyberattacks

Question: Recently there have been numerous publications in British media regarding alleged Russian hacker attacks against the UK infrastructure. Has the Embassy received any evidence from British officials on this? Answer: The Embassy has not received any official evidence from the British side on either of these publications. We believe this clearly shows that there is nothing behind them.


25.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the investigation of the death of Nikolay Glushkov

Question: Does the Embassy have any new information regarding circumstances of the death of the Russian citizen Nikolay Glushkov in London on 12 March? Answer: Unfortunately, we have to state once again that the British side evades any sort of cooperation with Russia with regard to the investigation of Mr Glushkov’s death.


22.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning comparisons in Britain between Russian and Saudi Arabia’s reactions to high-profile incidents

Question: After the reports concerning the death of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the British media have been drawing parallels between the actions of Saudi Arabia and Russia. Are there any good reasons for such comparisons? Answer: We have already stated that we would not be commenting idle talks. It is for journalists, not diplomats, to speculate on this kind of issues. However, we have taken note of yet another article by Boris Johnson in “The Daily Telegraph”, where he compares the death of Jamal Khashoggi to the so-called poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. In particular, he insists that Saudi Arabia and Turkey should – and rightly so – provide the public with as much information as possible concerning the exact causes of the journalist’s death.



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