MOSCOW (Dispatches) – Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, returned to Washington on Sunday, expecting meetings scheduled with U.S. colleagues next week, the RIA news agency reported.
Moscow recalled Antonov for consultations after Biden said in March that he believed Putin was “a killer”. The U.S. ambassador later returned to Washington for consultations too.
“There is a lot of work to be done. We are counting on progress,” RIA cited Antonov as saying before he boarded a flight to the United States.
With the return of the Russian envoy, the intensely strained relations between the Kremlin and the White House could be set for a relative thaw.
“Given the results of the meeting between the two presidents, I am counting on constructive work with my American colleagues to build equal and pragmatic relations,” Antonov said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden agreed to return their respective ambassadors to Washington and Moscow during talks in Geneva on Wednesday, a first summit between the two that they both described as pragmatic rather than friendly.
The summit, which took place following long U.S.-Russian negotiations over its timing and location, invoked memories of the Cold War summit between U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the Swiss city in 1985.
The Putin-Biden summit was aimed at defusing tensions and settling disputes between Washington and Moscow over a range of controversial issues, particularity after Russia formally designated the United States an “unfriendly” state last month, barring Washington’s embassy from employing Russian nationals.
Over the past six years, the U.S. has imposed waves of sanctions against Russia, including over alleged meddling in its 2016 and 2020 presidential elections and the recent jailing of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
More recently, tensions escalated over the Russian-speaking Donbass region of Ukraine, where Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia forces have been fighting since 2014.
Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow, however, denies the allegations.