Ambassador Antonov in an exclusive interview to Vesti: John Bolton was a known known. Russia knew how to deal with his particular prickly brand of diplomacy. The new appointee may be an improvement, but this remains to be seen.
- Do you manage to get explanations from your partners? What's the current attitude of American diplomacy toward the Russian diplomatic mission when it comes to the bilateral work, which isn't in the spotlight? Has anything changed after the dismissal of Mr. Bolton, NSA to the U.S. President? What's the atmosphere like today? How can we assess it?
Anatoly Antonov, Ambassador of Russia to the U.S.: Unfortunately, Russian-American relations are far from their best. I'd like to stress that we have a lot to do to stabilize Russian-American relations and make them normal and mutually beneficial because not only the U.S. or Russia suffer from the current state of the relations. The international community suffers from it. I recall the old times of Lenin and Stalin when the role of personality in history was widely discussed. Of course, it's unlikely that we need to overrate the role and the importance of Bolton in the domestic and foreign policy of the American state. I keep in mind that President Trump is the main personality here. The actions of all of his advisors, assistants, ministers should be aimed at the one thing — bringing his ideas into life. President Trump has repeatedly said that he'd like to get along with Russia. We, who work in Washington, New York, Houston, would like to see real steps in this direction. Unfortunately, we've recently seen a controversial trend: on the one hand, we see some intensification of political contacts between our countries, on the other hand, the number of political contacts hasn't still translated into their quality.
As to the replacement of Bolton and Bolton himself, I've worked with him for over 20 years in various formats when he was deputy secretary of state, in the G8 format, and the bilateral format. For us, who work in the embassy, he was a predictable politician. And we knew what he's capable and incapable of.
As to Mr. O'Brien, unfortunately, I haven't had an opportunity to meet with him yet. We asked our American colleagues to organize such a meeting. We're interested in the establishment of direct contacts with the new NSA to the President. But I'd like to draw your attention to yesterday's article in the Washington Post where Mr. O'Brien outlined his approaches to the work of the National Security Council, which he heads. As to Russia, I have to state that the article says that the results of Donald Trump's effective work are the expulsion of Russian diplomats, tougher economic sanctions, the closure of consulates general. I can't agree with this opinion of Mr. O'Brien that these are Donald Trump's achievements in foreign policy. Unfortunately, this article that I've mentioned, it's easy to find, doesn't even say what the American President stated repeatedly — the importance and necessity of getting along with Russia. This document missed this assumption and thesis.
But I wouldn't like to make unambiguous conclusions as to what the strategy of the new NSA to the President will be like, so I'd like to postpone making definitive conclusions. I'd like to wait for, firstly, if it's feasible, my first meeting with him. Secondly, very much hope that the contacts established between Bolton and Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev, those important, efficient, pragmatic, and useful contacts will be continued. Moreover, they made it clear to us that they're ready to receive Nikolai Platonovich here, in Washington, on American land. But let's wait until O'Brien accustoms to his office to see how the situation in this direction will develop.