Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. said this week that the “atmosphere in Washington is poison” toward his nation, defending the Kremlin against allegations of attempted murder and election interference in the United States.
“I have thought a lot about the situation. I’m not sure that everybody will like what I will say … but it seems to me, atmosphere in Washington is poison. Is poisoned. It’s a toxic atmosphere,” Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview that aired Friday morning. “I made a joke with my press secretary saying today Russia is responsible for everything, even for bad weather. It’s high time for us to stop blaming each other. It’s high time for us to start real conversation about real problems.”
Antonov’s comments about the political atmosphere in Washington aren’t without merit. The ambassador recently reached out to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) seeking advice on how to meet U.S. lawmakers and government officials, who have, for the most part, avoided Antonov.
The Russian ambassador also suggested that the Kremlin would have no motive to try to assassinate former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, who along with his daughter Yulia Skripal, was poisoned earlier this month, according to the British government, with a nerve agent that is only manufactured in Russia. Skripal had spent five years in a Russian jail and then several years in the United Kingdom before the attempt on his life, Antonov said, posing the question as to why Moscow would order his assassination only recently, days before a Russian presidential election.
In response to Skripal’s attempted assassination, the U.S. expelled 60 Russian diplomats — whom the Trump administration said are actually intelligence officers — and ordered closed Russia’s Consulate in Seattle. Russia, in retaliation, expelled 60 American diplomats and closed the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg.
“If anybody slap your cheek, your face, what will be reaction from your side?” Antonov said. “You will think — not you will think, you will try to do and you will retaliate. It goes without saying.”