WASHINGTON, March 31. /TASS/. Russia’s Embassy to the United States will do everything possible so that Americans have no problems while travelling to Russia, Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said in a video address uploaded on the embassy’s Twitter page on Saturday.
"We will do everything in our capacity to make sure that Americans have zero problems with trips to Russia," he said.
"Once Americans visit our country, they will understand why we love it so much and why we are so proud of our homeland," he said. "Nevertheless, we will keep on telling Americans more about Russia and helping them discover our history, culture, achievement in space and modern technological breakthrough."
"We want everybody to understand that we are destined to become friends again," he concluded.
The Russian ambassador’s address was uploaded on Twitter when the first group of expelled Russian diplomats was heading on buses for Washington Dulles International Airport. A special flight will carry them to Moscow after making a stopover in New York for the diplomats expelled from the consulate general and Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations to board.
Expulsion of diplomats
In a show of solidarity with London’s stance over the reported poisoning of former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, the United States declared 60 Russian diplomats personae non gratae on March 26. Among them are 46 diplomats from the embassy in Washington, two from the consulate general in New York and 12 more from Russia’s mission to the United Nations.
On Thursday, US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman was summoned to Russia’s Foreign Ministry to be notified that Russia declared 58 diplomats of the US Embassy in Moscow and two staff members of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg personae non gratae, they were ordered to leave the country by April 5. Besides, Russia revoked the consent to the operation of the US consulate-general in St. Petersburg.
Skripal poisoning case
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who was earlier sentenced in Russia for spying for the UK, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, UK. Police said they had been exposed to a nerve agent.
Later, London claimed that the toxin of Novichok-class had been allegedly developed in Russia. With that, the UK rushed to accuse Russia of being involved, while failing to produce any evidence. Moscow refuted the accusations that it had participated in the incident and points out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia have ever done research into that toxic chemical.
Without providing any proof, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts. In response, Moscow expelled the equal number of UK diplomats. In addition, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was ordered to be closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated.