Russian ambassador flies back to U.S., expects “equal and pragmatic” relations between the two countries

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov expressed hope for an equal and pragmatic relationship following the U.S.-Russian summit in Geneva before he flew back to the United States on Sunday (June 20). He also looked forward to a constructive meeting with U.S. officials scheduled for next week.

Citing a Russian news agency, Reuters reported that Antonov said he returned to Washington with optimism that the meeting would begin on Monday and last a week. He added that there was much work to be done and counted on progress.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to the return of their ambassadors to each other’s capitals during their summit meeting last Wednesday. The two sides described the summit, aimed at reducing tensions, as “pragmatic” rather than “friendly.

U.S.-Russian relations have deteriorated sharply since Biden moved into the White House and accused the Kremlin of meddling in the U.S. election and launching cyberattacks. After Biden said in March that he believed Putin was a “murderer,” Moscow recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations. Subsequently, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow also returned to Washington.

Since then, the two sides have announced a series of mutually retaliatory sanctions and expulsions. In May, Russia officially designated the United States as a “non-friendly” country and banned U.S. embassies and consulates from employing Russians. The only country on Russia’s list is the Czech Republic.