Russia reserves right to further cut number of US diplomats
Russia has the right of further cutting the number of US diplomats in the country, but won’t do this now, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters after his visit to China, TASS reports.
Putin recalled that Moscow and Washington had agreed to have an equal number of diplomats in Russia and the US. Some 1,300 US diplomats worked in Russia, and 455 Russian diplomats were in the US. Among these 455 Russian diplomats there are 155 people working for the UN, he said. These are not diplomats accredited by the US State Department, they are staff members of an international organization. According to the Russian president, the US had struggled to have the UN headquarters in New York and undertook commitments to ensure the work of this organization.
"Strictly speaking, if we talk about full parity, there should not be 455 US diplomats in Moscow but rather minus 155. So, we reserve the right to make a decision also on the number of US diplomats, but we won’t do this now. We’ll keep an eye on how the situation develops further," the president stressed.
Putin said the Americans cut the number of Russian diplomatic missions, and this was their right, "but what’s different here is that this was apparently done in an uncivilized manner, and this doesn’t put our American partners in a good light."
"It is difficult to hold dialogue with those people who mix up Austria with Australia. There’s nothing that can be done about this now, that’s apparently the level of political culture of a certain part of the American establishment. The American people are really a great nation if they put up with such a large number of people who have such a low level of political culture," Putin said.
Putin will issue instructions to the Russian Foreign Ministry to file a lawsuit with a US court over the seizure of the Russian diplomatic property in the United States.
"As for the buildings and facilities (of the Russian diplomatic mission in the US), this is really an unprecedented incident," Putin said. "The American side stripped Russia of the right to use our property. This is a clear violation of Russia’s property rights. That’s why, to begin with, I will instruct the Russian Foreign Ministry to take legal action. Let’s see how the much-lauded American judicial system works."
The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier said in a statement that, on September 2, the US authorities seized the buildings of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and the Trade Mission in Washington, which are the Russian property and enjoy diplomatic immunity. Russian representatives have also been denied access to the leased premises of the trade mission’s branch in New York. Moscow sees the seizure of the Russian diplomatic property as a clearly hostile act and calls on Washington to immediately return it.