US expulsion of Russian diplomats from UN HQ violates all international deals – envoy

US expulsion of Russian diplomats from UN HQ violates all international deals – envoy
The US acted unlawfully when it expelled Russian diplomats from the UN headquarters in New York and has failed as the host country for the international body, Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s envoy to the UN Office in Geneva, said.

Washington’s decision to include 12 Russian UN mission employees to the list of diplomats expelled from the US over the Sergei Skripal case, is “absolutely illegal and contradicting all international agreements and conventions on diplomatic relations,” Gatilov told RIA Novosti.

“This is absolutely unlawful because… those diplomats are accredited at the United Nations and have a completely different status. They work as representatives of Russia at the UN, but not with the US government,” he explained.

The envoy said that the US used "unscrupulous methods” to put pressure on Russian diplomats at the UN long before announcing the expulsion on Monday. One of these means was through the “non-renewal of visas for our diplomats working in New York,” he said.

“By doing so, they create a situation, in which people are unable to travel outside the US for personal or official purposes and then return to their place of work because their visa expired and the entry to the US is closed for them,” Gatilov said.

The envoy said that he knew of four or five Russian diplomats at the UN whose visas have not been prolonged for six months, despite the fact that all the required documents had been filed in time. “There was simply no reaction from the American side,” he said, adding that all attempts to clarify the situation by the Russian side were also ignored.
US Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, earlier said that expelling Russians from the UN would be a complicated affair, as it would require getting approval from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Gatilov described the expulsion of the Russian UN staff as “an unfriendly act towards our country,” saying that Washington has behaved “indecently… not the way the host country, which accommodates diplomats working at the UN, should act.”

According to the envoy, such persecution of Russian diplomats would be “hardly possible” at the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We believe that the local authorities have more sanity” and understand the special status of those working at international organizations, he said. “Rationally thinking people do not succumb to such provocative methods.”

READ MORE: Russia closes Seattle consulate, but refuses to remove flag

Earlier this week, the US announced it would expel 60 Russian diplomats and close Russia’s consulate in Seattle, as President Donald Trump’s administration answered the UK’s calls to punish Russia over its alleged involvement in the poisoning of former double agent Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, on British soil. In a tit-for-tat response, Moscow said on Thursday that 60 American diplomats would have to leave the country and the US consulate in St. Petersburg was being shut down.

READ MORE: Moscow confronts London with 14 questions on ‘fabricated’ Skripal case

In early March, the Skripals were poisoned in Salisbury with what is claimed to be a Soviet-designed nerve agent, A-234 (also known as 'Novichok'). Without a proper investigation being carried out, London accused Moscow of being behind the attack, expelled Russian diplomats and introduced other restrictions against the county. Britain urged its allies to follow suit and sanction Moscow as well, with not only the US, but also Germany, France and Poland being among the countries to show Russian diplomats the door.

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