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UN to consider resolutions on US seizure of Russian diplomatic properties, says envoy

Fedor Strzhizhovsky stated that the activities of the US authorities ran counter to its commitments as the host country under the United Nations Headquarters agreement

UNITED NATIONS, November 15. /TASS/. The UN General Assembly will consider two resolutions in December on the situation surrounding Russia’s diplomatic properties in the US, Fedor Strzhizhovsky, Spokesman for the Russian Mission to the UN, told TASS on Thursday.

"This violation of justice by US authorities against the property and personnel of the Russian embassy, consulates and the permanent mission has entered the spotlight of the UN General Assembly at the request of the Russian delegation," he said.

"These issues were debated in October-November at its Sixth Committee (legal)," Strzhizhovsky said. "On November 13, two resolutions were approved that will be referred to the General Assembly for approval in November," he went on to say.

The diplomat explained that the activities of the US authorities ran counter to its commitments as the host country under the United Nations Headquarters agreement. In view of this, the relevant UN committee has repeatedly appealed to Washington over the past few years to cancel a number of unlawful decisions.

At Russia’s initiative, in October this committee "insistently urged the US to immediately lift any unlawful restrictions against the premises of the Permanent Mission in Oyster Bay", "to abolish the 40-kilometer zone" restricting diplomats’ travels and to speed up the issuance of visas for delegates arriving in New York for UN affairs, he reiterated.

As the result, the Sixth Committee approved these conclusions by consensus, adding them into a special resolution of the UN General Assembly that is passed on the results of activity of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country. "Thus, the UN standpoint here has been practically shaped. So, the responsibility for non-compliance with the decisions passed in New York will rest fully with the American side," he stressed.

As for the documents in question, the diplomat said it was the renewal of the effective resolution on the security of diplomatic missions, as well as a report, recording the illegal action by the US towards missions accredited at the UN. The UN resolution that has been in effect for the past two years now focuses specifically on the necessity of nations’ strict adherence to the rules covering the immunity of diplomatic missions, Strzhizhovsky explained.

He said that within the framework of a report from the UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country, the Sixth Committee had separately considered an outstanding problem of Washington's unlawful activity towards the Russian Mission to the UN and some other missions.

Problems involving diplomatic properties and visas

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said in an interview with TASS in September that Moscow had made sure that data on illegal US acts against Russia’s diplomatic property be included in a report by the UN chief.

"We sent the information to the UN Secretary General about the unlawful acts committed by the US authorities against the property and staff of the Russian embassy, the consulates and the permanent mission to the UN. This data has been included in Antonio Guterres’ report, which will be discussed in October by the Sixth (legal) committee," Nebenzya said in the interview.

Moscow’s UN envoy noted that Russian diplomats in the US were still facing a slew of difficulties.

"Access to the premises of the permanent mission in Oyster Bay is still blocked, and most recently a significant number of our staff members were expelled under a far-fetched pretext," the diplomat noted. He also said Russian diplomats in New York and missions of some other states have been restricted in their travel to a 40-kilometer zone for years. Also, a host of problems with getting visas for delegates traveling to the US for UN events still exists.

Washington’s Russian diplomatic property grab

In September 2017, the US authorities closed down the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and the trade mission in Washington, which are owned by the Russian government and enjoy diplomatic immunity, as well as the New York branch of the trade mission, which Russia had been renting, as part of America’s anti-Russian sanctions. Moscow described Washington's move as an openly hostile act and urged US authorities to reverse it immediately. On March 26, 2018, Washington announced the closure of Russia’s Consulate General in Seattle (the building was rented by Russia) and the consul general’s residence (Russia’s diplomatic property).

Speaking at a news conference in Xiamen, China, after the BRICS summit in September 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would instruct the Foreign Ministry to file a lawsuit with a US court over the seizure of Russia’s diplomatic property.

Later in September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference after his speech at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly that Moscow was about to wrap up work on lawsuits for US courts over the situation with Russia’s diplomatic property.