Anatoly Antonov, Russia's new ambassador to the U.S., said that he is disappointed in the reception he has received in Washington, Politico reported.
Antonov has had a difficult time obtaining meetings and lawmakers have asked him not to publicize meeting sessions; he has been in Washington for six months, and obtained his first meeting with a U.S. lawmaker after three months, when he met with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Politico reported.
"The Congress, overwhelmed by Russophobia, is led by politically biased emotions, rather than a clear-thinking mind… we are bluntly told they fear criticism," Antonov told a Politico reporter in a combination of written and face-to-face discussions.
The political climate in Washington is rattled by special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Antonov, however, said he is not focused on that topic.
"All I hear is 'meddling, interference'… I don't know those words. I want to talk about friendship, cooperation," he said.
The envoy told Politico that he received "quite a warm and friendly welcome" at the White House and the State Department. However, Antonov said, "the constructive attitude of my American colleagues does not turn from words to practice."
"After what happened to Jeff Sessions, no member wants to be in the press for meeting with the Russian ambassador," said a congressional aide, referring to Attorney General Sessions recusing himself from the Russia probe due to meetings he held with Russian officials.
The aide said that any lawmaker who meets with Antonov should be upfront about the meeting. "At least for now, any meeting would have to be bipartisan and publicly acknowledged. And even under these conditions, there's not much common ground for a fruitful discussion."
Antonov has instructed aides to attend Washington functions, and he often leaves Washington on goodwill visits, Politico reported. "I don't think he wants to burn bridges in his first year," said Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.
The embassy's Twitter account posted Tuesday about a meeting between Antonov and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "Both sides agree on importance of restoring normalcy in our relations," the embassy tweeted.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.