WASHINGTON, February 9. /TASS/. Russia’s US Ambassador Anatoly Antonov has commented on various aspects of the Russian-US relations, including the current situation regarding the arrest of Russian diplomatic property in the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to host a summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the ‘hockey diplomacy’ announced by his US colleague.
Russia continues to analyze the situation surrounding the arrest of its diplomatic property in the United States,the ambassador told TASS.
“We keep analyzing the situation. We are assessing all possible outcomes of the case. Of course, we will take action only if we are absolutely sure that it will bring us positive results,” he said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov said in mid-January that new information regarding legal aspects of the diplomatic property issue may appear soon.
On September 2, 2017, the US authorities closed Russia’s consulate general in San Francisco, the trade mission in Washington and its rented office in New York. The former two facilities are Russia’s government property and enjoy diplomatic immunity. Moscow described the seizure of Russian diplomatic property as an openly hostile step and called on the United States to immediately return these facilities.
On March 26, 2018, Washington closed Russia’s consulate general in Seattle (rented premises) and the consul general’s residence (Russia’s diplomatic property).
The Russian Embassy in Washington is trying to explain to US officials the essence and ‘added value’ of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to organize a summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (P5), Russia’s US ambassador told TASS.
“I can only say that during out contacts with US official circles and the business community, we are trying to explain the essence and ‘added value’ of the proposal, put forward by our president,” he said. “But it’s not my task to comment on whether something fits or not into the pre-election agenda and the political schedule of [US President] Donald Trump.”
Antonov said that he has so far seen no reaction to the initiative from “the administration, lawmakers or other members of ruling circles.”
“This might be due to the domestic political events in the United States that dominated ithe media landscape in the past weeks,” he suggested.
On January 23, speaking at the World Holocaust Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested organizing a summit of the leaders of Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain in 2020 to discuss world affairs. He said such a meeting could be held “in any country and at any point on the globe the counterparts find convenient.” Moscow, in his words, is ready “for such a serious discussion” and plans to send corresponding messages of these countries’ leaders without delay.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that China and France had already supported the initiative.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on February 6 Russia had not yet received responses from the United States and the United Kingdom.
Russia’s ambassador to the United States named Russia, the United States or ‘neutral territory’ as possible venues for a meeting between Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev and US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
“Contacts between security councils of Russia and the United States are an important platform for addressing bilateral and international problems,” Ambassador Anatoly Antonov told TASS. “Previous national security advisers, Herbert McMaster and John Bolton, spoke to us about their consultations with Patrushev only in a positive way.”
“I’m sure that we will preserve the continuity of dialogue, aimed first of all at stabilizing the Russian-US relations. By the way, O’Brien recently spoke of the need to improve them. We assume that new meetings between the heads of security councils can take place in Russia, the United States, or on a neutral territory,” the Russian diplomat went on.
However, he added that “at least an invitation from the accepting side is required” in order to start preparations for Patrushev’s visit to the United States.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said last October that the date for O’Brien’s visit to Russia is being coordinated. Prior to that, US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said in an interview with the Kommersant daily that O’Brien’s possible visit to Russia to establish dialogue with Patrushev was being considered and would take place rather sooner than later.
Antonov has also expressed his support for the proposal to develop bilateral relations through ‘hockey diplomacy,’ put forward by the US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan.
“We support any initiative to develop interstate contacts, between official representatives and agencies, between public organizations and between citizens of our states,” the Russian ambassador said.
Antonov said that three years ago, Russia invited US teams to participate in an international children’s tournament in the central Russian town of Novomoskovsk (Tula Region).
“And we noticed that this had indeed produced results: children, their parents and fans have found new friends in Russia and discovered our country,” he continued.
“We can only wish success to Sullivan and confirm that ‘hockey diplomacy’ really works, just like any other sort of diplomacy aimed at producing a positive and mutually beneficial result,” the diplomat added.
On February 1, US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan visited an ice hockey match between Moscow’s clubs Spartak and Dinamo at the Arena CSKA stadium and took part in the ceremonial puck drop to start the game. During the event, he told reporters that ice hockey might help “break the ice” between the United States and Russia to start a conversation about shared interests and values.
In mid-January, the US diplomat promised to engage in “hockey diplomacy” in Russia.