"They [diplomats] are working as Russian representatives accredited to the United Nations, rather than to the US government. And any expulsion of them is absolutely unlawful and contradicts all international agreements and conventions on diplomatic relations. We regard the US actions as a breach of all these international documents," Russian permanent representative to the UN Office in Geneva Gennady Gatilov.
According to Gatilov, it is not the first time when the United States has practiced the expulsion of Russian diplomats accredited to the United Nations. The diplomat reiterated that the move went against international norms and principles of the functioning of the United Nations and that Moscow viewed it as an "unfriendly step."
Gatilov noted that Washington had long been exercising "dishonest" practices toward Russian diplomats by denying them prolongation of their visas, which prevented them from leaving the country with the right to return and created generally unfavorable conditions for their work.
"The United States, on the whole, has been acting very indecently in this regard. Not the way a country which hosts diplomatic missions… accredited to the United Nations must behave," he concluded.
The diplomat also expressed a belief that Switzerland would not succumb to provocations and remain a responsible host to national UN missions in Geneva that treats their special status with due respect.
According to the 1947 agreement, the US government "shall not impose any impediments to transit to and from the headquarters district" for delegates of UN member states and UN officials as well as their families and this provision "shall be applicable irrespective of the relations existing between" the governments of these UN representatives and Washington.
London Leads Int'l Slander Campaign Against Russia With Limited Traction
"Unfortunately, we know that the United Kingdom is trying to use all venues. This campaign aims at slandering Russia, bringing the Skripal case to the international arena and trying to receive international support with its help. But they are not enjoying strong support and the majority of the rational delegations do not want to engage in this case," Gatilov said.
The diplomat said that London had been trying to raise the issue of Skripal's poisoning, especially in Geneva, in the framework of the disarmament conference.
West Sidesteps Positive Developments in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta
Western countries have chosen to sidestep the facts about positive developments in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta and exclusively focus on negative aspects of the situation, Russian permanent representative to the UN Office in Geneva Gennady Gatilov told Sputnik.
"Unfortunately, all these facts have been silenced by our Western counterparts. On the contrary, they place emphasis on negative aspects of the developments … The reality is that Russia has been providing assistance to the Syrian authorities and that many residents while leaving Eastern Ghouta, express their gratitude for the efforts we have made to ease the humanitarian situation in the area," Gatilov said.
On February 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401 urging all conflicting sides to immediately stop hostilities and adhere to a long-term humanitarian ceasefire across the entire Syrian territory in order to ensure the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid supplies, as well as the medical evacuation of injured people.
Soon after the adoption of the resolution, Russia announced a daily five-hour humanitarian pause in the fighting to stop casualties among the population and to let civilians leave Eastern Ghouta.
As a result, over 150,000 people have left the area with the help of the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation since the launch of the pauses.