19 January 2020

Russian FM expects no improvements in Russia-US ties

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The improvement of relations between Russia and the United States is hardly possible in the near future, but Moscow is ready for joint work on the issue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Argumenty i Fakty daily. reports that when asked about mending Russia-US ties, Lavrov replied that it is "hardly" possible in the near future.

"Dealing with the heaps of problems that have accumulated in bilateral relations not as a result of our actions will not be easy. Establishing bilateral ties is a mutual process. Our country is ready for this work, and we have said that on many occasions," he said.

Lavrov also reiterated that Russia and the United States bear special responsibilities as the largest nuclear powers and permanent members of the UN Security Council.

"Cooperation between us is the key element of ensuring stability and predictability in international affairs. However, not everything depends on us, they say it takes two to dance the tango," he said.

Lavrov also noted the complicated domestic political situation in the United States as another factor.

"On the one hand, US President Donald Trump speaks of his intention to ‘get on well' with Russia. However, by no means everyone in Washington shares his stance," Lavrov said. "This is demonstrated through unfriendly measures, such as voicing various baseless accusations against us, imposing financial and economic sanctions, seizing diplomatic property, abducting our citizens in third states, undermining Russia’s foreign policy interests, attempting to interfere into our domestic affairs."

"At the same time, we will not give up," he went on. "We will keep searching for areas of common interest with the Americans, despite the difficulties."

According to the Russian top diplomat, the presidents of the two states share the understanding that the deadlock in relations must be overcome.

"During the meeting in Osaka in June, the leaders spoke in favor of expanding economic cooperation, jointly settling regional crises, resuming the dialogue on strategic stability, positively assessed the dialogue on anti-terrorism issues. Vladimir Putin invited Trump to Moscow to celebrate the 75th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War," Lavrov said.

Unpredictable conduct

Commenting on certain US steps, Lavrov admitted that Washington has demonstrated an "inconsistent and sometimes even unpredictable behavior."

"That’s why making any forecasts regarding relations with the US is futile," he said. "But I repeat - we, on our part, are ready to work patiently to fix them. Naturally, the obligatory condition is respect to Russia’s interests and the basis of equality and mutual respect."

Diplomatic property issue

The Russian foreign minister said Moscow continued its work to return its diplomatic property, seized by Washington, and is considering various steps in this direction.

"We are considering various options in returning the unlawfully seized Russian property. On a regular basis, in the bilateral format and on multilateral platforms, we bring up the issue of Washington’s violation of its commitments. This work will continue," Lavrov said.

"In fact, Washington expropriated six facilities owned by Russia and registered as diplomatic property with the US Department of State," he said, mentioning the two buildings of the Consulate General in San Francisco, the Consul General’s residence in Seattle, countryside diplomatic compounds of the embassy and permanent mission in New York and the trade mission in Washington.

"We have been completely deprived of consular presence at the West Coast, where dozens of thousands of Russian citizens and compatriots reside. The US Department of State has denied us the right to visit our own facilities," Lavrov went on.

He said such measures "constituted a blatant violation of the US international commitments."

On September 2, 2017, US authorities closed down the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and the Trade Mission in Washington, which are owned by the Russian government and enjoy diplomatic immunity. In addition, the New York office of the Trade Mission, which Russia had been renting, was shut. Moscow described the US administration's move as an overtly hostile act and urged American authorities to return these properties immediately.

On March 26, 2018, Washington announced the closure of the Russian Consulate General in Seattle (rented by Russia) and the residence of the Consul General (Russia’s diplomatic property).

On September 5, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Foreign Ministry to file a lawsuit with a US court over the seized Russian diplomatic property.

Lavrov said the US justice system refuses to cooperate with Russian law enforcement bodies and keeps putting pressure on its allies to arrest Russian citizens visiting third states.

2019.07.17 / 13:54
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