WASHINGTON, March 31. /TASS/. The expulsion of Russian diplomats has damaged the Russian embassy in the United States, but it will continue to work vigorously to stabilize Russian-American relations, Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told reporters.
"I believe that the embassy’s potential has been damaged. People who were responsible for specific spheres of interaction with the United States in the fields of culture, trade, economy, cooperation in outer space are leaving," he said.
"The embassy will not lower its effectiveness, it will continue to work vigorously to stabilize Russian-American relations in order to prevent their further deterioration or falling into the abyss, as it would seem it could not get worse," Antonov added.
According to the ambassador, in particular Washington has decided to send away two embassy employees, who "were working on noble causes, they cared about the remains of those Russian ... servicemen who were buried on the US territory." He said that representatives of the United States are engaged in the same activities in the territory of the Russian Federation. "This activity was so open, so noble, so I consider it sacred. It is deeply regrettable and disappointing that they have sent away these people," he noted.
On March 26, US authorities have decided to expel 60 Russian diplomats and close the Russian consulate in Seattle. The diplomats being expelled from the US include 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. In turn, Germany, Canada, Poland and France have decided to expel four diplomats each, Lithuania and the Czech Republic - three each, Australia, Albania, Denmark, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands - two each, Hungary, Latvia, Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Finland, Croatia , Sweden and Estonia - one each, while Ukraine decided to send away 13 Russian diplomats.
This measures were taken against the alleged involvement if Russia in poisoning of an ex-GRU official in Great Britain. On March 4, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers, 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 and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow.
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. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, 23 British diplomats were expelled, the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg was closed and the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia. At the same time, Moscow pointed out that further measures could be taken "should there be any more hostile actions against Russia.".