Russian ambassador to US claims he was encouraged to defect
Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov has revealed that he received a letter inviting him to condemn President Vladimir Putin.
The message proposed that he should “give up on his motherland and condemn the actions of the Russian president,” Antonov told Russia’s Channel 1 on Tuesday.
“If I wanted to do so, I was told to contact the office of Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman,” he added.
The Russian Embassy has written to the US State Department demanding to know “what it all meant”, the diplomat said.
Antonov also claimed that people have been handing out cards allegedly containing FBI contacts outside the Russian Embassy compound, and inviting staff to have a chat with US special services.
He also noted that American media published articles calling on Russian service personnel and diplomats to betray their country, he added.
“I stress my firm rejection of such policies and such treatment of Russian diplomats,” the ambassador said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have sharply deteriorated since the launch of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine in late February.
The US has been actively backing Kiev with arms, funds and intelligence. Last month, US President Joe Biden approved a vast $40 billion military aid package for Ukraine.
Washington has imposed harsh economic sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, including a ban on oil imports, while also putting pressure on countries who continue to cooperate with Moscow.