It is very important to President Joe Biden that the US Embassy in Russia remains open and functioning, US Charge d’Affaires in Moscow Elizabeth Rood told RIA Novosti, noting that the United States has channels of communication with Russia at the working level.
Admitting that the bilateral relations between the US and Russia are on a rather low level and that the embassies of both countries are considerably reduced from their normal size, Rood noted, however, that they maintain channels of communication about many things that are necessary to keep the embassy working.
The charge d’affaires expressed hope that there would be no more mutual expulsions of diplomats in relations between Moscow and Washington, stressing that it’s in the interests of both countries to have fully staffed, fully functioning embassies.
Rood’s statant comes in light of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks last month that Moscow sees no reason to maintain its current diplomatic presence in Western countries.
Noting that Moscow was shifting its geographical focus, Lavrov pointed out that more attention needed to be paid to countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa that are willing to cooperate with Russia on mutually beneficial and equal terms unlike the countries from the West.
Earlier this month, the Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, emphasized that it took a lot of work to steer the Biden Administration toward understanding that Western sanctions are causing significant damage to Russian diplomats around the world.
Reacting to expanded anti-Russian sanctions and expulsions, Moscow expelled in mid-April 2021 ten US diplomats and blacklisted eight current and former US officials – including FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, Susan Rice, and John Bolton – and also included the United States in the list of unfriendly countries.
Washington, in the meantime, has limited Russian diplomats’ stay to three years, delaying at the same time as much as possible the issuance of visas to employees who could replace them resulting in actual expulsion of Russian diplomats from the US.
In September 2021, Ambassador Antonov was handed a list of 55 employees of the Russian diplomatic mission who should’ve left the US in 2022 in two stages by the end of June.
Back in March, Moscow announced the expulsion of an unspecified number of US diplomats in a tit-for-tat move after Washington previously ordered the expulsion of 12 diplomats from Russia’s Mission to the UN after accusing them of engaging in espionage activities that are harmful to US national security.