US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan arrived back in Moscow Thursday, days after the Russian ambassador to the US resumed his post in Washington, DC.
The return of the envoys to their respective diplomatic posts following months of absence marked a modest deliverable from last week’s summit in Geneva between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a statement tweeted from the US Embassy spokesperson’s Twitter account, Sullivan said he was “ready to work with the (US Embassy Russia) team toward progress on U.S. foreign policy priorities, and with #Russia on our goal of a stable and predictable relationship between our countries.”
The Russian Embassy said Sunday that Amb. Anatoly Antonov had returned to his post in the US capital.
In comments at a press briefing earlier this week, State Department spokesperson Ned Price welcomed the news of Antonov’s return to Washington and noted that Sullivan was returning to his post “in part because we remain committed to open channels of communication with the Russian government, both as a means to advance US interests, but also to reduce the risk of miscalculation between our two countries.”
Diplomatic relations between the two nations had deteriorated in recent months, particularly following the Biden administration’s actions in April to punish Russia for a series of misdeeds including election interference and their ongoing occupation and human rights abuses in Crimea. The penalties included the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in Washington, including “representatives of Russian intelligence services,” for the election interference and the cyber hack.
A day later, Russia sanctioned eight senior US administration officials in retaliation, imposed new limits on American diplomats, and said it would expel 10 US diplomats, while the US warned against a “cycle of escalation.”
Antonov was recalled to Moscow in March, prior to the sanctions, after Biden said he in television interview that he believed Putin was “a killer.”
Sullivan returned to the US in April for “consultations” with the administration. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the time the Kremlin told the US enovy that he should return to Washington to hold “detailed” and “serious” consultations. The State Department denied that he had been ordered out or expelled from the country, and said at the time they had expected him to return “in the coming weeks.”