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Austria or Australia? Putin says US establishment does not know the difference

Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters after his visit to the BRICS summit held in China, that while he may limit the number of US diplomats in Russia, he would not do so, because Americans have difficulty in distinguishing between Austria and Australia.

Published: September 6, 2017, 10:16 am

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    “It is difficult to hold dialogue with those people who mix up Austria with Australia. There’s nothing that can be done about this now, that’s apparently the level of political culture of a certain part of the American establishment. The American people are really a great nation if they put up with such a large number of people who have such a low level of political culture,” Putin said.

    Putin explained that both Moscow and Washington has earlier agreed to have an equal number of diplomats in their respective countries, which was not the case as the US had far more diplomats in Russia.

    “Strictly speaking, if we talk about full parity, there should not be 455 US diplomats in Moscow but rather minus 155. So, we reserve the right to make a decision also on the number of US diplomats, but we won’t do this now. We’ll keep an eye on how the situation develops further,” the president stressed.

    Putin said America had the right to cut back on Russian diplomatic staff “but what’s different here is that this was apparently done in an uncivil manner, and this doesn’t put our American partners in a good light.”

    “As for the buildings and facilities [of the Russian diplomatic mission in the US], this is really an unprecedented incident,” Putin said. “The American side stripped Russia of the right to use our property. This is a clear violation of Russia’s property rights. That’s why, to begin with, I will instruct the Russian Foreign Ministry to take legal action. Let’s see how the much-lauded American judicial system works.”

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry has sent requests to experts asking to prepare a lawsuit against the US over the illegal seizure of diplomatic property, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed.

    On Tuesday, Lavrov informed the US Secretary of State about Moscow’s intention to file a lawsuit over Washington’s illegal actions towards Russia’s diplomatic property. “While discussing the current situation in bilateral relations, Lavrov stressed that Washington’s seizure of the Russian diplomatic property in the United States was a blatant violation of international law,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister on Monday called the United States’ shuttering of Russian facilities “state hooliganism”. Reuters reported that Sergei Ryabkov exclaimed: “I am inclined to call what is happening state hooliganism.”

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova that the FBI agents had searched the Russian diplomatic and consular compounds for “explosive devices”, as if they were terrorist hideouts rather than embassies and consular properties.

    Meanwhile president Putin has extended congratulations to both the Russian and Syrian militaries with a large-scale victory over terrorists in the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

    “This is a very important strategic victory,” Peskov added.

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