Russia’s ambassador to the US has flown back to Washington, DC, 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, left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday for New York, where he will travel on to Washington, Russian news agencies reported.
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“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, following summit talks in Geneva with US counterpart Joe Biden, said on Wednesday that Moscow and Washington agreed to return their ambassadors to post.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries 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 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.
“After an important summit, I look forward to returning to Moscow soon,” Sullivan was quoted as saying in a tweet by the US embassy’s spokesman Jason Rebholz.
AmbSullivan: “After an important summit, I look forward to returning to Moscow soon to lead the strong team @USEmbRu as we implement #POTUS Biden’s policy directives outlined in Geneva, including strategic stability, #humanrights, a stable & predictable relationship w/ #Russia.”
— Jason P. Rebholz (@USEmbRuPress) June 19, 2021
US-Russia relations have been deteriorating for years, notably with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its 2015 intervention in Syria and US charges – denied by Moscow – of meddling in the 2016 election won by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.
Putin said last week it was “hard to say” if relations would improve, but that there was a “glimpse of hope”.
The Russian leader called Biden a constructive, experienced partner, and said they spoke “the same language”.
But he added that there had been no friendship, rather a pragmatic dialogue about their two countries’ interests.