23 May 2018
Moscow: 17:35
London: 15:35

Consular queries:  
+44 (0) 203 668 7474  
info@rusemb.org.uk  

 

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

21.05.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning a new report on Russia by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee

Q: Today the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee published a report “Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK”. How would you comment on that? A: We are carefully studying this report and its recommendations. Meanwhile, one cannot help but notice at first sight that it is another anti-Russian undertaking by the parliamentary committee aimed at supporting the UK claims to play a leading role in the Western bloc to “deter Russia”. The 2015 National Security Strategy, Prime Minister’s Banquet Speech in November 2017, unsubstantiated accusations against Russia of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the “fusion doctrine” outlined on 1 May by National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill are all integral parts of the reckless policy of UK political leadership against Russia.


21.05.2018 - Embassy’s press Secretary answers media question on the detention of the journalist Kirill Vyshinsky in Ukraine

Q: How did UK authorities react to the detention of “RIA Novosti Ukraine” journalist Kirill Vyshinsky in Kiev on 15 May? A: The reporter’s detention by the Ukrainian authorities caused worldwide outrage. It was condemned by a number of countries, international organizations and journalists’ professional bodies, including the UK National Union of Journalists. Regretfully, the UK Government, which so often calls on Russia and other countries to respect freedom of speech, has preferred to keep silent on this case.


18.05.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question about Sergei Skripal’s discharge from the hospital

Question: According to the recent reports, Sergei Skripal was discharged this morning from the hospital in Salisbury. How could you comment on that? Answer: We are satisfied that the treatment Sergei Skripal received was successful and he is well enough to leave the hospital. We wish him full recovery.


18.05.2018 - President of Syria Bashar al-Assad made a working visit to Russia

Vladimir Putin held talks with President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad in Sochi.


16.05.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a question concerning Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan’s statement on the opening of the Crimea Bridge

Q: Yesterday Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan made a statement, in which he criticized the opening of the Crimea Bridge, accused Russia of the “annexation of the Crimea” and expressed concerns over the alleged human rights violations on the peninsula. How can you comment on that? A: Unfortunately, we have to state that the British political establishment continues to deny current international realities.


15.05.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a question concerning Sergei Skripal’s cooperation with Czech and Estonian intelligence services

Q: How would you comment on today’s British media reports on Sergei Skripal’s cooperation with Czech and Estonian intelligence services? A: Obviously, in the absence of any evidence of Russia’s involvement in Sergei and Yulia Skripal’s poisoning, UK special services are desperately trying to find a “motive” that could explain Moscow’s alleged guilt.


15.05.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko met with members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia

On May 14, Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko met with members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia. They discussed the preparation for the upcoming World Cup in Russia, including the modalities of Russia’s cooperation with the United Kingdom. The Ambassador informed MPs that Russia is ready for the World Cup. On the Salisbury incident, Alexander Yakovenko brought to the attentions of MPs Russia’s position on this case and called upon the British government to hold a transparent investigation.


14.05.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a question concerning violations of rights of Sergei and Yulia Skripal by the British authorities

Q. Does Russia plan to use international legal mechanisms to hold the UK responsible for violations of rights of Sergei and Yulia Skripal? A. Currently it’s too early to speak of specific steps that Russia could take. It is clear though that the UK continues to blatantly violate the rights of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, who might be forcibly detained on its territory, in addition to violations of Russia’s right to communicate with them in accordance with Article 36 of the bilateral Consular convention. In particular, the actions of the British authorities raise serious questions as regards to observance of the following rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950:


14.05.2018 - Attention Russian citizens!

The Russian Embassy in London has been informed of unmotivated stops and interrogations of Russian citizens, who legally arrive to Great Britain having UK visas, by the UK Border Force and police.


14.05.2018 - Embassy Press Officer replies to a media question regarding the statement by MI5 Director General

Question: What is your response to today’s Berlin speech by MI5 Director General Andrew Parker who called Russia a “pariah” over its “aggressive and pernicious” activities? Answer: The British government is rallying new participants into its anti-Russian campaign. The respective statements by the political leadership have been followed by National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill, a number of high-ranking military officers, and now by Mr Parker.



all messages