In a TODAY show exclusive, Savannah Guthrie interviewed Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov on the day Russia announced it would expel 60 American diplomats.
The ambassador discussed Russia’s decision to expel American diplomats before having to answer more ridiculous questions about how Russia “allegedly” interfered in America’s presidential elections.
Ambassador Antonov explained why Russia had responded by expelling U.S. diplomats…
“If anybody slaps your cheek, your face, what will be the reaction from your side? You will retaliate. It goes without saying.”
The Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told NBC’s Today that he can’t remember a period when relations between Washington and Moscow were worse, after both countries expelled dozens of each other’s diplomats following the poisoning of a former Russian spy.
“It seems to me that atmosphere in Washington is poisoned — it’s a toxic atmosphere,” he said. “It depends upon us to decide whether we are in Cold War or not. But … I don’t remember such [a] bad shape of our relations.”
Pointing out that “there is great mistrust between the United States and Russia” at present, Antonov said that “today Russia’s responsible for everything, even for bad weather.”
“It’s high time for us to stop blaming each other. It’s high time for us to start a real conversation about real problems.”
Then again, with the wave of anti-Russia hysteria sweeping the US today at levels not seen since the days of Joe McCarthy, that is unlikely. It is even more unlikely considering Trump’s two recent neocon cabinet picks: Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser.
In the interview, Antonov denied that the Russian government had anything to do with the Skripal poisoning, noting that to this very day “no evidence” has been presented.
Antonov then questioned the timing of such a poisoning hoax orchestrated by the embattled May government, highlighting its curious proximity to the Russian elections and the fact that the attack happened “very close to U.K. military chemical laboratory.”
Antonov asked: “Do we have a motive to kill [Skripal] on the eve of [the] Russian presidential election? … Where is the motive?”
“Skripal spent five years in Russian jail. So it was enough time for us to know everything that he knew. Why we should make revenge? You see that he was in our jail. And you’ll see that he was in our hands. And for us, it’s clear that he’s empty. He knows nothing.”
As Zerohedge reports, Antonov also repeated Russia’s denials that it meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, saying it was “impossible to imagine” that the Kremlin was responsible, and said that the recent indictment by Robert Mueller of 13 Russian nationals on suspicion of interfering in the vote was “not a proof” of responsibility.
Antonov said despite the tit-for-tat exchanges, he was prepared to sit down and talk with his U.S. counterparts. U.S. officials have said similar, however the Russian ambassador claimed he has been unable to arrange any meetings.
“I have offered my colleagues from the State Department from [the Department] of Defense, to sit together, to come to my residence,” he said. “If they are scared, I say that, ‘Come on, we can meet in a restaurant and to discuss all outstanding issues.’ It was four or five months ago. And I got [an] answer: silent.”