16:18 GMT01 December 2020
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    GENEVA (Sputnik) - The US decision to expel Russian diplomats from the UN mission in New York over the Skripal case contradicts international norms and is viewed by Moscow as an unfriendly move, Russian permanent representative to the UN Office in Geneva Gennady Gatilov told Sputnik.

    "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.

    READ MORE: Russia Expels Western States' Diplomats in Tit-for-Tat Measures Amid Skripal Row

    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.

    READ MORE: Russian Consulate in Seattle Closes on US Order

    16 EU countries, as well as the United States, Canada, Albania, Norway, Ukraine, Macedonia and Australia stated earlier this week their decisions to expel over 150 Russian diplomats in connection with Moscow's alleged engagement in the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK city of Salisbury. US President Donald Trump, in particular, decreed the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 employees of the Russian Embassy and 12 people assigned to the United Nations in New York, as well as the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.

    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.

    READ MORE: Over 6,000 Militants With Families Evacuated From E Ghouta — Russian MoD

    The situation in Eastern Ghouta has been tense over the past months with ongoing shelling by local militants targeting Damascus and retaliatory fire from the Syrian pro-government forces, which resulted in serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the area.

    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.


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    diplomatic expulsions, Russian diplomats, expulsion, United Nations, Gennady Gatilov, US, Russia
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