Russian ambassador returns ‘optimistic’ to Washington
MOSCOW, June 20, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – The Russian ambassador in Washington flew back Sunday to the United States saying he hoped to build “equal and pragmatic” ties after a US-Russia summit in Geneva aimed at reducing tensions.
The plane transporting ambassador Anatoly Antonov, who was recalled in March for consultations, took off at 9:20 a.m. (0620 GMT) from Moscow’s Cheremetievo airport for New York, where he will travel on to Washington, Russian news agencies reported.
“Given the results of the meeting between the two presidents, I am counting on constructive work with my American colleagues to build equal and pragmatic relations,” Antonov told the Ria Novosti agency, adding he was in an “optimistic mood.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow and Washington agreed for their ambassadors to return, after summit talks in Geneva with US counterpart Joe Biden.
Diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington had all but broken down since Biden took office and accused the Kremlin of interfering in US elections and launching cyberattacks.
After Biden likened Putin to a “killer”, Russia in March took the rare step of recalling ambassador Antonov and said the US envoy John Sullivan to Moscow likewise should return to Washington.
Sullivan left Moscow in April, as the two countries announced a wave of tit-for-tat sanctions and expulsions of diplomats.
In May, Russia formally designated the United States an “unfriendly” state, barring its embassy from employing Russian nationals. The only other country on that list is the Czech Republic.