Unfriendly steps contradict US plans to normalize relations with Russia — ambassador
The US authorities’ unfriendly steps run counter to their earlier assurances that they want to normalize relations with Moscow, the Russian embassy in Washington said on Thursday citing Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov.
"A resolute protest has been referred to the US side following removal of Russian flags from our diplomatic facilities in San Francisco and the trade mission in Washington. Earlier, these buildings were actually seized by the US authorities in violation of norms of international law, bilateral agreements and the US laws," Antonov said in an interview with the Rossiya television channel.
"We consider these as highly unfriendly steps that run counter to official Washington’s earlier assurances that it wants to normalize bilateral relations. Such steps only hamper the Russian-US dialogue. The entire responsibility for the violation of norms of interstate relations rests only on Washington," he said.
"We demand systemic seizures of our diplomatic properties in the United States accompanied by insulting actions be immediately stopped. And never repeated in future," the Russian diplomat stressed.
"We have been calling and are calling for establishing pragmatic bilateral cooperation with the United States. We are confident that such cooperation between the two great powers is in the interests of the entire international community," he said in an interview with the Rossiya television channel.
"We are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and have bear special responsibility for international peace and security."
He said he though a recent constructive meeting between the two countries’ tops diplomats, Sergey Lavrov of Russia and Rex Tillerson of the United States, laid a good basis to stop the United State’s actions no one benefits from and muse about what is to be done together to bring the bilateral relations to a higher level," the Russian diplomat noted.
"It’s saddening that today’s US actions undermine this confidence and this optimism. But I still want to believe that official Washington will change its mind, make the right conclusions from our words and our relations will finally normalize," he stressed.
Russia’s embassy in the United States said earlier it had lodged a protest to the US side over removal of flags from the seized Russian diplomatic facilities in San Francisco and the trade mission in Washington, and demanded the flags be immediately placed back.
Later on, a State Department official told TASS that Russian flags were removed from the Russian consulate general in San Francisco by US authorities and it was done with due respect to the Russian national symbols. "The flags at the former Russian consular properties in San Francisco were respectfully lowered and are safely stored within each of the buildings," he said obviously referring to the consulate general and the consul’s residence in San Francisco.
On September 2, the US authorities shut down the Russian trade mission in Washington, DC and its branch in New York City. Besides, they demanded that the Consulate General in San Francisco should be closed and the consul general’s residence emptied. The US set a deadline of October 1 for diplomats from the consulate general in San Francisco to pack their belongings.
The US Administration says that the facilities have been stripped of diplomatic immunity. Nonetheless, they are still Russia’s state property, except the trade mission’s office in New York City leased by Moscow.