Russophobia is so bad in Washington the ambassador is pleading for help to secure meetings with U.S. lawmakers and officials.
Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the U.S., wrote a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) earlier this month asking if he could be of assistance.
“I would be very grateful for your advice on how to develop contacts with members of U.S. Congress, departments and agencies, as well as for your possible assistance in setting up such meetings,” he wrote in the March 9 letter.
“As I have told you during our meeting, I have to face difficulties in setting up contacts with U.S. high-ranking officials. A lot of meeting requests with the leadership of U.S. agencies and members of Congress were either left without a response, or simply refused under no pretext,” he continued.
Hatch had previously confirmed he met with Antonov.
According to Politico, which obtained a copy of the letter, the ambassador listed 20 top administration and elected officials that have left his requests unanswered or downright rejected them. Some of those who “officially” declined the meeting request include White House chief of staff John Kelly, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Defense Department undersecretary of defense for policy John Rood.
The other administration officials listed as refusing to respond to Antonov include Vice President Mike Pence, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. […]
Congressional leaders listed as not responding to Antonov include House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Antonov also said House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce and Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry won’t respond to him.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and DNC Chairman Tom Perez also have ignored Antonov's requests for a meeting, according to the list. McDaniel is listed twice on the letter as “Ronna McDaniel” and “Romnie McDaniel.”
Some senators have met with Antonov, including Hatch, Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). (Politico)
Antonov will likely face even greater difficulties after the U.S.’s expulsion of dozens of Russian officials as well as the closure of a consulate in response to the Kremlin’s suspected role in a chemical attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. Russia then responded in kind.
In an interview with “Today,” Antonov said he can’t remember seeing relations between the two countries at such a low point.
"It seems to me that atmosphere in Washington is poisoned — it's a toxic atmosphere," he said. "It depends upon us to decide whether we are in Cold War or not. But ... I don't remember such [a] bad shape of our relations."
He continued, noting the “great mistrust between the United States and Russia” right now.
"Today Russia's responsible for everything, even for bad weather," he said. "It's high time for us to stop blaming each other. It's high time for us to start a real conversation about real problems."