Lavrov: Show me at least one fact Mos­cow med­dled in 2016 elec­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

MOS­COW / BRUS­SELS — Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov said on Wed­nes­day he wanted to be shown at least one fact prov­ing Mos­cow’s med­dling in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last year.

“I don’t know any­thing about this fact. It’s amaz­ing that se­ri­ous peo­ple are mak­ing a moun­tain out of a mole­hill,” Lavrov said dur­ing a visit to Bel­gium. His com­ments were broad­cast live by Rus­sian state Ros­siya 24 TV chan­nel.

Mos­cow tough­ened its rhetoric in the row on Tues­day, say­ing it was con­sid­er­ing ways to re­tal­i­ate for the seizure of some of its diplo­matic premises in the United States and ex­pul­sions of diplo­mats.

“The sit­u­a­tion is out­ra­geous,” Lavrov said.

“I be­lieve that for such a great coun­try like the US, this ad­vo­cate of in­ter­na­tional law, it’s just shame­ful to leave the sit­u­a­tion in midair,” he said in com­ments posted on his min­istry’s web­site.

“We are now think­ing of spe­cific steps.”

At a news con­fer­ence later in Brus­sels with the EU’s top diplo­mat Fed­er­ica Mogherini, Lavrov spoke of “re­tal­ia­tory mea­sures” but de­clined to an­swer when asked if that meant that Rus­sia would ex­pel US diplo­mats or seize diplo­matic prop­erty.

He called on Wash­ing­ton to heed Mos­cow’s de­mands for a re­turn of diplo­matic as­sets.

“If this does not hap­pen, if we see that this step is not seen as es­sen­tial in Wash­ing­ton, then of course we will take re­tal­ia­tory mea­sures.

“This is the law of di­plo­macy, the law of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs, that rec­i­proc­ity is the ba­sis of all re­la­tions.”

Cit­ing a Rus­sian diplo­mat- ic source, the Izves­tia daily said Rus­sia was con­sid­er­ing ex­pelling around 30 US diplo­mats and tak­ing over two US diplo­matic com­pounds in Mos­cow and St Peters­burg.

In De­cem­ber, the US seized two Rus­sian diplo­matic com­pounds and then-pres­i­dent Barack Obama or­dered the ex­pul­sion of 35 Rus­sians over what he said was their in­volve­ment in hack­ing to in­ter­fere in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign.

Mos­cow de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and said then it would wait to see if re­la­tions im­proved un­der in­com­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Izves­tia on Tues­day said the Mos­cow was frus­trated that Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s first meet­ing with Trump last week had failed to re­solve the diplo­matic row.

Their dis­cus­sions far ex­ceeded the orig­i­nal time limit, rang­ing from cy­ber se­cu­rity to the con­flicts in Syria and Ukraine. Trump de­scribed the talks soon after­ward as “very, very good”.

A se­nior US ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said on Tues­day he had been told the is­sue of the com­pounds did not come up dur­ing the Trump-Putin meet­ing. The State Depart­ment did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment on Lavrov’s re­marks.

(The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had aimed) to poi­son to a max­i­mum US-Rus­sian ties.”

‘Poi­son­ing ties’

Lavrov said on Tues­day Rus­sia well un­der­stood the im­pact of the con­tin­ued “anti-Rus­sian bias of the US Congress” now that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had long been in place.

“We re­al­ize that the de­ci­sion to ex­pel our diplo­mats, to im­pound our diplo­matic prop­erty was adopted by the ad­min­is­tra­tion of former US pres­i­dent Obama,” he said.

The out­go­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion had aimed “to poi­son to a max­i­mum US-Rus­sian ties” and cre­ate a “trap” for Trump, he added.

Izves­tia said Mos­cow still hoped the diplo­matic row could be solved dur­ing a meet­ing be­tween Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Ryabkov and US Un­der­sec­re­tary of State Thomas Shan­non.

It did not say when such a meet­ing might hap­pen. A pre­vi­ous such meet­ing be­tween Ryabkov and Shan­non, planned for June 23, was abruptly can­celed by Mos­cow in re­sponse to the ex­pan­sion of US sanc­tions on Rus­sia.

Sergei Lavrov, Rus­sian for­eign min­is­ter

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