Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov says he plans to hold several meetings at various institutions in Moscow and will stay in Russia as long as necessary.
"I have already planned several meetings in Moscow in various departments. It is difficult to say how much time this will take," Antonov told reporters at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York ahead of his flight to Moscow, adding that he was going to stay in Moscow "for as long as necessary."
The ambassador said the current state of US-Russia relations needs to be analysed and a lot of work needs to be done.
"It is necessary to analyse the state of Russian-American relations in which we find ourselves. The Russian side has repeatedly stressed that we are interested in the development of Russian-American relations to the same extent as our American colleagues. We just need to make up our mind now," the diplomat said.
Earlier on Saturday, Antonov left the Russian Embassy building in Washington, DC, setting off to Moscow for consultations on ways to mend the battered relations between the two countries. When asked about his mood, the diplomat gave a thumbs up.
The only such instance of Moscow recalling its ambassador in the US took place in 1998, in protest to the US-UK bombardment in Iraq. Washington recalled its ambassadors to Russia twice - in 1934 and in 1980.
In his interview with ABC News, US President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin would have to "pay a price" for alleged interference in the 2020 US presidential election. During an interview with ABC News, Biden also replied in the affirmative when asked if he thought Putin was a "killer."
Putin responded to Biden's comments by wishing him good health and suggested that people often see their own traits in others. The Russian president invited his US counterpart to hold an open online discussion on Friday or on Monday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Biden's remarks were "very bad statements", noting that Moscow assumes the US president certainly does not seek to mend ties.
Biden said Friday he would certainly talk with Putin — "at some point." Asked about whether he would impose more sanctions against Russia, Biden said "that will come in time."
While labelling the Russian president a "killer," Biden has so far avoided insulting the Saudi crown prince despite the fact Biden’s own intelligence agencies assessed that Mohammed bin Salman approved the operation to "capture or kill' journalist Jamal Khashoggi," a longtime critic of the Saudi Royal family. Former security and intelligence officials shared with Sputnik that Biden is unlikely to punish or even call bin Salman a “killer” because it would undermine US interests, including arms sales to Riyadh.
Following Biden's comments, the Russian embassy in the United States said it received many letters from American citizens in which they apologised for the US president's statements. The Russian amassador said he was "deeply touched by the caring and active position of ordinary Americans who understand that dialogue between our countries should be based on mutual respect and equality."
CNN reported that the White House may soon roll out another batch of Russia sanctions over election interference allegations. The Biden administration has already introduced sanctions against Moscow over the alleged poisoning of Russian video blogger Alexey Navalny, though no substantial materials to prove the case have been presented. Other accusations have also been renewed by the new US administration, including a massive cyberattack on SolarWinds and bounties on US troops in Afghanistan.