WASHINGTON, March 26. /TASS/. Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov told journalists on Monday he had conveyed a firm protest to US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs A. Wess Mitchell over Washington’s decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats.
"Having received this information, I expressed a resolute protest against the illegal actions of the United States and stressed that as of now there is no evidence of Russia’s interference into the investigation of the Skripal case, as there is no proof of Russia’s involvement in the tragedy that happened in Salisbury," he said.
According to Antonov, the best way to investigate the Skripal case is to conduct a proper probe within the framework of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
"Let me emphasize that the most optimal solution to the so-called Skripal case is a quiet and professional investigation as part of the OPCW, where all parties concerned are represented," he said.
Antonov has stated that 46 Russian diplomats from Washington and two from the Consulate General in New York would leave US soil and that 12 more employees of the Russian Permanent Mission to the UN have been declared personae non gratae.
Besides, the Russian Consulate General in Seattle, Washington, will be closed on March 30, he said.
Moscow will take all necessary actions to ensure that the diplomats expelled from the US leave the country within a week as requested by Washington, according to the ambassador.
"This is a serious blow to the Russian embassy in Washington, both quantity and quality wise. We will definitely take all the necessary measures with Moscow’s assistance in order to ensure that all Russian citizens leave the United States within the deadline," Antonov said.
According to Antonov, Washington is the only one responsible for the consequences of the Russia-US relations breakdown.
"I pointed out [at a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Wess Mitchell] that the US will be the only one responsible for the consequences of the relations breakdown," the ambassador said.
Earlier 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.