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Russia to find ways to respond to situation over US visas for Russian delegation — Lavrov

"Such impertinence cannot be tolerated," Lavrov added
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey  Sergei Bobylev/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey
© Sergei Bobylev/TASS

MOSCOW, September 26. /TASS/. Moscow will find ways to respond to Washington’s decision not to issue visas to certain members of the Russian delegation to the 74th UN General Assembly session, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Kommersant daily, published on Wednesday.

"We will find ways to respond. Sometimes, they are also interested in coming to us. But we have already learned how small-minded and unreliable those people can be," he said.

"Of course we will react sharply, we will try to give our response. Such impertinence cannot be tolerated," Lavrov added.

The minister said that last year, prior to a visit to Russia by a delegation of US congressmen, Russia received numerous requests to permit the journey by US Senator Ron Johnson, who had earlier been blacklisted by Russia. Lavrov added that the Russian blacklist was compiled solely as a response to a similar move by Washington.

"We gave our permission [to Johnson’s visit], on the condition that during a response visit, our parliamentary delegation will also include one or several persons formally blacklisted by the US, to show that we have started building bridges at least in the parliamentary diplomacy dimension, that we started to reject confrontational and couter-productive approaches. We were assured that this would be the case, but when our delegation invited by the US Congress started preparing for the visit, we were told that it was ‘absolutely impossible’ to issue a visa to anyone from the sanctions list," Lavrov said. "This is how they understand American exceptionalism: they can do whatever they want, others must do what they allow them to do. This is sad."

Russian space corporation Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin and ten diplomats of the Russian Foreign Ministry were among members of the Russian delegation to the UN General Assembly, to whom the United States did not issue a visa, Lavrov said.

"Visas were denied to ten our employees, and this is only the Foreign Ministry. Besides, they denied [visas] to [chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the State Duma] Leonid Slutsky and [Federation Council International Affairs Committee] Konstantin Kosachev, who had earlier made multiple trips to the US, and also to Rogozin, who wanted to attend events related to space cooperation," Lavrov said. "Nearly all our staff members (there were interpreters among them) who were denied visas have repeatedly attended events organized by various UN bodies."

"Naturally, we protested. We were told that there was no discrimination, no violation of the US obligations to the UN as the host nation, which houses the world organization’s headquarters, including the obligations sealed in agreements between the US and UN about the need to ensure unimpeded access to all of its members to all events. But we have already become accustomed to US manners," the Russian top diplomat added.

In that regard, Lavrov said that Russia might raise the issue of transferring the UN headquarters to another nation.

"When the UN was being established, and the location of its headquarters was being discussed, Joseph Stalin suggested Sochi. That was a very far-sighted decision. Now, I think, Sochi would definitely cope with this task without any problems," Lavrov said.

In his opinion, neither US President Donald Trump nor US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo were aware about the visa denial.

"I have no doubts that it was done by middle-ranking officials, and both US President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo were not informed about this situation," he said. "Washington has a group of bureaucrats, nurtured with anti-Soviet propaganda, who now share Russophobic views and are eager to ignore any positive declaration about the need to build normal relations with Russia sometimes made by the White House."

"The conduct of bureaucrats, who had been delegated too much powers in past years, remains a big problem," Lavrov continued. "If we applaud the statements of our leaders… but at the same time remain at the same level of moral satisfaction without doing nothing, practical actions will be taken by those bureaucrats, whose names are not familiar to us. They have deep roots in state institutions, feel perfectly well and, possibly, are making their career by reproducing Cold War-era cliches.".