Russia to US: ‘Stop destroying our relationship, start solving problems you’ve caused’
The much-touted meeting between US Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov in Helsinki has produced no breakthrough, with Russia confirming that further retaliatory measures against US diplomats are imminent.
“We urged them to stop destroying Russian-American relations and undermining international law, and to occupy themselves with solving problems that have arisen not due to any fault of our own,” said a statement from the Russian foreign ministry at the conclusion of the first day of a two-day summit.
When asked if this meant that further restrictions against the US diplomatic corps in Russia will happen within a month, Ryabkov told the Sputnik news agency that he “doesn’t think it will take as long as that.”
Earlier Monday, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov promised that Moscow would introduce “full parity” into its relations with Washington following the closure of three diplomatic properties on US territory earlier this month. The closures were ordered by the US State Department.
According to a report in the Russian business daily Kommersant, the counter-measures could include a further cut in the number of American embassy staff, or a more symbolic reply, such as restricting the entry points for holders of US diplomatic passports and reducing the number of parking spaces outside mission buildings.
“The Russian side once again voice protest over the United States’ hostile actions, and violation of diplomatic immunity,” the ministry said Tuesday evening. “It was stressed that Russia is bringing conditions for US diplomats in the country in line with those that affect our envoys.”
Ryabkov told Shannon that Moscow planned to “accelerate” its lawsuit against the US over the “seizures” of the consulate in San Francisco, two trade mission annexes in Washington DC and New York as well as two Russian properties that were shuttered in the last days of the Obama administration.
“The steps, including searches of premises enjoying diplomatic immunity that were conducted by the US security services under threat of the use of force, are a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the bilateral Consular Convention. In addition, serious restrictions were imposed on the freedom of movement of our diplomats,” the foreign ministry said.