Andrei Baklanov: "Russia must oppose US actions"
The United States seized the buildings of Russia's Consulate General in San Francisco, trade mission in Washington and a branch of trade mission in New York, conducting searches with participation of special services and law enforcement officers. Deputy Chairman of the Association of Russian diplomats and former Russian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Andrei Baklanov, discussed how this unprecedented step will affect diplomatic crisis between the Russian Federation and the United States and already tense relations between Moscow and Washington in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- Have there been such cases in world diplomatic practice?
Closure or suspension of foreign missions have happened. However, previous analogues contrast very much with what is happening right now in the US. In this case, I can refer to my own experience. In 1993, when economic situation was difficult after the collapse of the USSR, activities of Russia's Consulate in Port Said were suspended. I was instructed to negotiate with locals. I agreed on a meeting and went to Port Said, governor gathered all those who had direct or indirect relation to the issue of closing our consulate, including power structures. We had a very long conversation. They did everything so well in this situation: despite the fact that our consulate was closing, they agreed that they would leave their guards there, that we would periodically come and conduct consular activities in this building, which was still ours, and of course, no one inspected anything. That is, Egyptians had a very noble position on all directions. They not just followed the norms of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations (for example, that if this is our building, then this is our building, and it doesn't matter if our diplomats work there or they are forced not to work there for one reason or another).
- So the US acted incorrectly in this situation?
- These analogies underline absolute unacceptability of the current situation in America. I think there are two processes right now, somewhere they intersect, somewhere they are strengthening each other. The first one is the increasing incompetence of Americans in many issues, including the fact that they don't know basic requirements of convention, what can be done and what cannot be done, how the inspections should be carried out, whether it should be carried out at all. Maria Zakharova spoke in great detail about this issue. The second one is anger, which is pretty uncommon for professionals. You can feel it in this country, and it affects more and more people. They succumb to this feeling and show a certain inadequacy by making quite absurd decisions.
- How can Russia respond to the US actions?
- First, what happened now must be remembered. It is necessary to understand what kind of country and what kind of people are we dealing with, what can we expect from them in this direction. In other words, we need to make long-term conclusions that are not even related to the current diplomatic crisis.
Our actual response should not be mirrored. I think we should be ready to counter what the US like to do, I mean attempts to interfere in internal affairs, attempts to establish links with non-systemic opposition. There's a number of other features of American diplomacy, whose representatives behave quite unceremoniously, rudely. They must be put in place without looking back. There is nothing to be ashamed of, especially after seeing their malicious behavior. We can to what we want to counter those actions that are unacceptable for us. This is especially important considering that in 2018 they will try to interfere in the electoral processes in Russia. They have such evil tradition, and I don't rule the possibility that it will continue, and we will have to be ready to respond. They created these conditions for us, so we can calmly respond like we want to block illegal activities, including activities of diplomats.
- How can we stop the chain of negative responses that is currently observed in relations between Moscow and Washington, and is this even possible in the current conditions?
- They will back down if they feel that these measures won't lead to anything positive for them. Just like in case with sanctions, the best answer is to show that they are absolutely ineffective. The second option is to take certain counter measures, which would make them stop and return to at least basic complience with international law, with the Vienna Convention on Foreign Relations. I'm not even mentioning complience with the UN Charter, which says about creation of more favorable conditions for interstate relations. If we can't achieve any improvement, we should at least keep relations at normal level.