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US decision at odds with content of Putin-Trump conversation, ambassador notes

March 26, 19:10 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

Washington ordered 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, to leave the United States within a week

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WASHINGTON, March 26. /TASS/. The US decision to expel a large group of Russian diplomats and close the Russian consulate in Seattle is at odds with the content of the recent conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told reporters.

He pointed out that the responsibility for a further deterioration of relations lied with Washington. According to the ambassador, the US authorities’ actions "are destroying everything that we cherished about Russia-US relations."

"Frankly speaking, the latest conversation between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump inspired hope. It was constructive and we expected that the ideas voiced by the two leaders will lead to specific actions," the Russian ambassador noted.

Predictable unpredictability

Antonov had difficulty in predicting the future of Russia-US relations, adding that the US actions were a source of uncertainty in that regard.

"Only a couple of days ago I met with a number of ambassadors from Western European and Asian countries at various official events here in Washington," the Russian ambassador said. "I liked the way the current US administration’s policy was described - predictable unpredictability. It is hard to say what the US authorities may do. Under the circumstances, we will continue to work as usual given the number of embassy staff that we will have left," Antonov said.

Expulsion of diplomats

On Monday, Washington ordered 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, to leave the United States within a week. In addition, Russia’s consulate in Seattle will be closed.

The steps are being taken in the wake of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer, who had been earlier convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers. On March 4, he and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union. London expelled 23 Russian diplomats. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.

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