Russian Ambassador Speaks Out: "Relations With The US Are The Worst I Can Remember"

The Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told NBC's Today that he can't remember a period when relations between Washington and Moscow were worse, after both countries expelled dozens of each other's diplomats following the poisoning of a former Russian spy.

"It seems to me that atmosphere in Washington is poisoned — it's a toxic atmosphere," he said. "It depends upon us to decide whether we are in Cold War or not. But ... I don't remember such [a] bad shape of our relations."

Pointing out that "there is great mistrust between the United States and Russia" at present, Antonov said that "today Russia's responsible for everything, even for bad weather."

"It's high time for us to stop blaming each other. It's high time for us to start a real conversation about real problems."

Then again, with the wave of anti-Russia hysteria sweeping the US today at levels not seen since the days of Joe McCarthy, that is unlikely. It is even more unlikely considering Trump's two recent neocon cabinet picks: Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser.

In the interview, Antonov echoed Putin's denial that Russia is behind the Skripal poisoning, saying there was "no evidence" Russia was responsible, even suggesting a conspiracy by noting that the attack happened "very close to U.K. military chemical laboratory." He asked: "Do we have a motive to kill [Skripal] on the eve of [the] Russian presidential election? … Where is the motive?"

"Skripal spent five years in Russian jail. So it was enough time for us to know everything that he knew. Why we should make revenge? You see that he was in our jail. And you'll see that he was in our hands. And for us, it's clear that he's empty. He knows nothing."

Antonov also repeated Russia's denials that it meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, saying it was "impossible to imagine" that the Kremlin was responsible, and said that the recent indictment by Robert Mueller of 13 Russian nationals on suspicion of interfering in the vote was "not a proof" of responsibility.

Meanwhile, on Thursday and also overnight Moscow responded to recent expulsions of Russian diplomats from Western nations with its own tit-for-tat retaliation. Yesterday, the Kremlin announced it was kicking out 58 employees of the U.S. embassy in Moscow and two of the U.S. consulate in Yekaterinburg.

On Friday morning, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the heads of diplomatic missions from countries that had either already expelled or decided to expel Russian diplomats “in solidarity” with the UK over the Skripal case. All of them were handed notes of protest. Among those summoned was UK envoy to Russia Laurie Bristow, who was told that within one month, the British side must cut its diplomatic staff in the embassy and its consulates across Russia to the same size as the Russian diplomatic mission in the UK, after the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats last week.

While no exact numbers were provided to the public, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, "the UK must cut more than 50 embassy staff in Russia."

Moscow also expelled two Italian diplomats and gave them a week to leave the country, the Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement. The list included a number of Swedish, Finnish and Polish diplomats as well. They were given several days to leave the country.

The map below lays out the number or Russian diplomats expelled...

... and here is the breakdown following today's tit-for-tat by the Kremlin. What is notable is that while the mutual expulsions are equal for virtually all countries, the number of UK diplomats to be expelled is more than double the 23 Russians that were kicked out last week, suggesting more retaliation from London is inevitable"

  • UK -27: 23 Russians Out, 50 Brits Out
  • US 00: 60 Russians Out, 60 Americans Out
  • Germany 00: 4 Russians Out, 4 Germans Out
  • Poland 00: 4 Russians Out, 4 Poles Out
  • Denmark 00: 2 Russians Out, 2 Danes Out
  • Spain 00: 2 Russians Out, 2 Spaniards Out
  • Ireland 00: 1 Russian Out, 1 Irish Out
  • Croatia 00: 1 Russian Out, 1 Croatian Out

Not all European countries joined "in solidarity" with the UK: Austria said it won’t be joining the punitive measures against Russia. “Indeed, we want to keep the channels of communication to Russia open,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said. Czech President Milos Zeman called the London claims “a bit superfluous,” and demanded the UK deliver proof of its allegations that Russia had a hand in the Skripal poisoning. Turkey also refused to expel Russians, with its Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag saying that "Turkey isn’t considering taking any decisions against Russia" and explained that the current crises in US-Turkish relations is a large factor in their decision not to alienate Moscow at a time when “there is a positive and good relationship between Turkey and Russia.

* * *

Back on NBC, Antonov explained why Russia had responded by expelling U.S. diplomats: "If anybody slaps your cheek, your face, what will be the reaction from your side?" he said. "You will retaliate. It goes without saying."

Antonov said despite the tit-for-tat exchanges, he was prepared to sit down and talk with his U.S. counterparts. U.S. officials have said similar, however the Russian ambassador claimed he has been unable to arrange any meetings.

"I have offered my colleagues from the State Department from [the Department] of Defense, to sit together, to come to my residence," he said. "If they are scared, I say that, 'Come on, we can meet in a restaurant and to discuss all outstanding issues.' It was four or five months ago. And I got [an] answer: silent."

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Comments

hedgeless_horseman IridiumRebel Fri, 03/30/2018 - 12:58 Permalink

 

Antonov said that "today Russia's responsible for everything, even for bad weather."

What's new?

This has been going on for thousands of years.

As it is written in The Holy Bible, Leviticus 16:1-34, The Scapegoat Ritual...

16:22.     Thus the goat shall carry on it all (((their))) iniquities

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/leviticus-161-34-the-scapegoat…

In reply to by IridiumRebel

The Ram EuroPox Fri, 03/30/2018 - 13:31 Permalink

You are so correct EuroPox.  I have Russian neighbors who are really naive about the entire sorry state of affairs.  They actually think 'negotiation' is going to work out tensions.  I don't have the heart to tell them that the west is striving to create a pretext for a shooting war.  The Russians would be better getting their military house in order and working with China, Iran, North Korea, and others to prepare for war or at least have such a strong alliance that America will not really want to attack.  The Russians have a safe window here until a western economic collapse.  After that, it gets really dicey as American leadership may get even more unstable (and that's saying something).  It's a bad situation for the planet and so many idiots in the western countries cannot see that they are being walked into a huge (nuclear) war!

In reply to by EuroPox

dunroamin EuroPox Fri, 03/30/2018 - 15:40 Permalink

NATO has advanced to a stone's throw from Russian borders. Western Govts have manufactured a casus belli and NATO is threatening "consequences". It's obvious to us that the West wants war and it must be even more obvious to Putin. He must go to bed each night wondering if the West will launch a pre-emptive strike while he sleeps. That level of threat is unbearable. If NATO and the West don't back off, Putin is quite likely to launch his own first strike.

In reply to by EuroPox

serotonindumptruck dunroamin Fri, 03/30/2018 - 16:36 Permalink

As others have accurately pointed out, if the situation were reversed, and Russia was massing troops and tactical nuclear missile batteries on the US borders of Canada and Mexico, would Washington DC be advocating for diplomacy and a peaceful resolution?

A Russian diplomat was recently quoted as saying "The United States only understands force."

It is common knowledge that the only way to stop a bully is by forcing him to stop through acts of equal or greater violence.

The Western nations have become the "bully of the playground", with the USA being the supreme bully of the planet.

Unfortunately for the world, the bully will not back off until being soundly and utterly defeated.

In reply to by dunroamin

VK Fri, 03/30/2018 - 12:58 Permalink

Let me save you the trouble Mr Ambassador. The US leadership are all hysterical children with a huge ego entitlement complex. If Russia shows restraint they feel it is weak and attack, if Russia retaliates they feel humiliated and launch another childish attack. There will never be any reconciliation with such childish brats. 

Deep Snorkeler Fri, 03/30/2018 - 12:59 Permalink

Trump's White House Team

Is composed of non-entities, gross incompetents

and a few criminals and gropers.

Trump provides the country with a demonstration

of selfish stupidity that most would keep hidden.

Midnight TV and golf are his whole life.

The iron laws of sanity have been broken.

ExPat2018 Fri, 03/30/2018 - 13:03 Permalink

That bitch Heather Nauert was really showing how evil the USA is.

At press conference she said the USA will take furthur actions because of Russia' kicking out American diplomats

The Matt the AP guy asked her  ''Well, there is zero proof of the allegations made by UK''.

Naurt then said ''Russia should grow up and admit they are guilty''

SMDH. 

crazybob369 VWAndy Fri, 03/30/2018 - 14:41 Permalink

People put their trust in government, because government gives them stuff. As long as the majority (currently 60%+) is feeding at the government trough, nothing will change. Historically the sheeple have always traded their freedom for perceived safety/comfort. It's not until their bellies are good and empty that they finally take to the streets with pitchforks.

We're a long way from that, but the day will come.

In reply to by VWAndy

crazybob369 crossroaddemon Fri, 03/30/2018 - 14:29 Permalink

Don't forget: "Freedom is not free." And while this idiom is used as a sort of thank you to the military, it has a deeper meaning. It goes back to Jefferson who said: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

Unfortunately, modern society is asleep at the wheel, so we may as well put our heads between our collective butts and kiss our asses and freedoms goodbye. 

In reply to by crossroaddemon