Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov has accused the US authorities of attempting in more than one occasion to convince him to switch his allegiance and defect to the United States.
Talking to Russia’s Channel 1 on Tuesday, Antonov said he recently received a letter suggesting he contact the State Department and inviting him to condemn the actions of the Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war with Ukraine, proposing that he gives up on his motherland.
Ambassador Antonov is one of Putin’s most senior and respected diplomats with a reputation for being something of a hardliner. He has previously served as deputy foreign minister to Sergei Lavrov and deputy defense minister.
He has gone on state TV to reveal he turned down the American bid for him to defect and to reassure Putin he had rejected the provocative advance which, according to his claims, came from the US State Department since he was supposed to contact the office of Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman if the offer was accepted.
Antonov would have had no option but to defect had he accepted the request since denouncing Putin and his war would have put his life in peril returning to Moscow.
According to the Russian ambassador to the US, there were more attempts by US authorities to encourage defections in which people have been handing out cards with FBI contacts outside the Russian Embassy compound and inviting Embassy staff to contact the US special services.
American media also published articles calling on Russian service personnel and diplomats to betray their country in light of recent Russia’s war activities.
Antonov said that the Russian Embassy in Washington has written to the US State Department demanding an explanation for the unacceptable behavior, stressing his firm rejection of such policies and such treatment of Russian diplomats.