Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told Politico in an interview published Monday that he can’t get meetings with senior Biden administration officials at the White House and State Department.
Antonov, who took the post in Washington in 2017, said that his letters to meet with US senators and House representatives have also been rejected. He said the Russian Embassy still maintains lower-level contacts with the Biden administration but described the situation as a “blockade.”
“Frankly, we are in a blockade,” Antonov said. “When I came to Washington, my idea was to use the word ‘improvement’ to describe his goals for the relationship. Now I prefer to use the word ‘stabilization.'”
The Russian ambassador decried the lack of contact with US officials and stressed that the US and Russia must cooperate. “It’s impossible to imagine even under such circumstances that problems of strategic stability, climate change, coronavirus, fighting against terrorism, fighting against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction could be solved without active engagement of the United States and Russia,” he said.
The Biden administration has abandoned diplomacy with Russia since it invaded Ukraine on February 24. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hasn’t spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov since February 15, and President Biden doesn’t seem interested in holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Antonov hasn’t spoken with Putin since 2017 but insists that is typical of the Russian system and said he has a direct line with the Kremlin.
Antonov said that the US has to decide what sort of relationship it wants to have with Russia. “You have to decide who we are for you,” he said. “Whether we are partner for you, whether we are rival for you, whether we are opponent, or I don’t want even to use this word, ‘enemy.'”
While Washington and Moscow still maintain formal diplomatic ties, the US has been leading a Western sanctions campaign aimed at isolating Russia from the global economy. The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the US and its allies are digging to isolate Russia for the long-term and are preparing for a new world where they no longer try to cooperate and coexist with Russia.
For his part, Antonov hopes for better relations. “As for me, I’m still sure we should be partners,” he said. “Previously, I would say that we are partners. Now we are not partners. It’s a pity.”