Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: The Russian ambassador is Washington’s least popular man

No one wants to talk to Anatoly Antonov. Russia’s ambassador to the United States can’t get meetings with senior officials at the White House or the State Department. He can’t convince U.S. lawmakers to see him, much less take a photo. It’s the rare American think tanker who’s willing to admit to having any contact with the envoy. Not even Russian leader Vladimir Putin chats with him. Antonov downplays his disconnect with Putin as simply the way the Russian system works, stressing that he has a direct line to the Kremlin, if not the Kremlin boss. But what about the growing number of cold shoulders in Washington, a city that has never truly welcomed him? “Frankly, we are in a blockade,” Antonov says of himself and his increasingly empty embassy. “When I came to Washington, my idea was to use the word ‘improvement’” to describe his goals for the relationship,” Antonov said. “Now I prefer to use the word ‘stabilization.’” He smiles when the word “survival” is suggested instead. (https://news.yahoo.com/lonely-anatoly-russian-ambassador-washington-083000898.html) In an exclusive interview with POLITICO — conducted last week in the ornate Ukrainian Room of the Russian embassy over tea, ice cream and pastries cooked by a beloved chef the U.S. is soon to kick out — Antonov is by turns charming and unbending, with a riposte for every question that challenges the Kremlin’s official position. It is unwise, foolish, he insists, to shut out the ambassador of a country with which the United States is “doomed to cooperate” on everything from nuclear non-proliferation to climate change.

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