WASHINGTON, March 31. /TASS/. Consulate General of Russia in Seattle (Washington) closed on Friday at 17:00 (03:00 GMT Saturday), the staff of the U.S. will not be deported, they will be distributed between the Russian diplomatic missions in Washington, new York and Houston (Texas). This was reported on Friday, Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov in conversation with a group of Russian journalists.
“Today, that is March 30, terminates the activity at 17:00 our Consulate General in Seattle. We then rent a room in one of the office buildings in Seattle,” – said the diplomat. “Our diplomats can stay until 25 April, but from 25 April we have to leave our property. The property is a residence, where he lives, the Consul General,” – said Antonov.
“As for the people, the Americans have not raised the question of their reduction or removal. They put the question so that if the Russian side decides to take them to Washington, or new York, or Houston, then they have the opportunity to continue working. On this basis we distribute our diplomats at our three points,” he said. “With regard to property, the Americans are in the same pattern as in San Francisco: we are asked to release the Russian property – that is the building where a Consul-General – but we were told that we have to prevent this will not be”, – he added.
“The fundamental question – a flag. We have a principled decision not to remove the flag from the Consul-General’s residence. We leave it to the conscience and decency of the American colleagues”, – said the head of the Russian diplomatic mission.
Antonov said that declared persona non grata by the Russian diplomats will fly from the USA to Moscow on Saturday, March 31.
“On March 31, all the diplomats who are declared persona non grata, together with their families fly home,” he said, adding that along with the family members of the United States leaves in total 171 people.
Russia, according to the head of the diplomatic mission, provided the two aircraft. “One plane will fly just two to three hours in new York, there will take 14 families and fly directly to Moscow”, – said Antonov, adding that the Embassy “will provide everything necessary to the collection occurred smoothly, orderly, and people were able to assemble peacefully”.
He stressed that already on Friday began loading their things into the plane.
Antonov also said that the expulsion of Russian diplomats has damaged the Russian Embassy in the US, but it will continue to work vigorously to stabilize Russian-American relations.
“I believe that the potential of the Embassy of the damage, leaving people who were responsible for specific spheres of interaction with the United States in the field of culture, trade, economy, cooperation in space,” he said.
“The Embassy will not reduce its effectiveness, will continue to vigorously work to stabilize Russian-American relations, in order to prevent their further deterioration or slipping into the abyss, because to worsen, seemingly, nowhere,” – said the head of the Russian diplomatic mission.
On 26 March the United States announced the expulsion of from 60 Russian diplomats (46 people from the Embassy in Washington, two of the Consulate General in new York, another 12 employees of the permanent mission to the UN declared persona non grata), and the closure of the Consulate General of Russia in Seattle. This decision was taken in connection with the poisoning of ex-GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal, in which a number of Western countries accuse Moscow.
4 Mar 66-year-old Sergei Skripal, sentenced in Russia for espionage in favour of great Britain, and his 33-year-old daughter Julia has been in Salisbury, according to the British side, effects of nerve agents. Later London made a statement that this substance was supposedly developed in Russia, and on this basis accused Moscow of involvement in the incident. The Russian side has categorically denied all the speculation, arguing that programmes such substances neither in the USSR nor in Russia did not exist.