WASHINGTON, April 16. /TASS/. The Russian embassy in the US has asked Washington to provide temporary accommodation on seized diplomatic property for Russian nationals waiting for their flight back home, however, the request was rejected, Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov said on Thursday.
The diplomat noted, quoted by the Russian embassy on Facebook, that citizens who are unable to pay for a hotel stay could be temporarily housed there.
"These buildings are empty, they could be used for good humanitarian purposes. However, even during the pandemic that threatens the lives of all people without exception, the US has been unable to have an unbiased view of the situation and to meet us halfway. I will refrain from further comments," Antonov said.
In September 2017, US officials closed the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco, the Russian trade mission in Washington and its branch in New York. The consulate and trade mission are Russia’s state property and have diplomatic immunity. Russia blasted the seizure of diplomatic property as a hostile act and urged the US to return the properties immediately.
Due to mass cancelation of international flights caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, thousands of Russians have been stranded abroad. Special exit flights are organized for their evacuation. The Russian government has introduced a quota for the return of Russian nationals from abroad: 500 people a day arriving in Moscow and the Moscow Region and 200 people a day arriving in other regions. Those who remain abroad can apply for material aid.
In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus — named COVID-19 by the WHO — have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 2,000,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 134,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 516,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.