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Russian ambassador heads back to US

June 20, 2021

The ambassador was recalled after US President Joe Biden branded Russian counterpart Putin "a killer" during an interview.

US President Biden Joe and Russian President Vladimir Putin smile against the backdrop of the US and Russian flags
Biden and Putin held their first face-to-face meeting in Geneva last weekImage: Maxim Shipenkov/dpa/picture alliance

The Russian ambassador arrived back in the United States on Sunday, three months after being recalled amid a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The plane transporting ambassador Anatoly Antonov took off at 9:20 a.m. (0620 UTC/GMT) from Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for New York, where he will travel on to Washington, Russian news agencies reported.

Anatoly Antonov
Anatoly Antonov is heading back to his post in Washington, USImage: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

Repairing relations after Putin 'killer' comment

Russia in March took the rare step of recalling Antonov from Washington after US President Joe Biden branded his Russian counterpart,  Vladimir Putin, "a killer" during an interview.

At the same time, Russia said US envoy to Moscow John Sullivan should return to Washington.

But during a bilateral summit last week in Geneva, Putin and Biden agreed that both diplomats should return to their posts.

Antonov feeling 'optimistic'

"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 told the Ria Novosti agency.

He added that he was in an "optimistic mood."

A date for Sullivan's return to Moscow has not yet been announced.

Bilateral talks were 'quite successful'

Diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington had all but broken down since Biden took office in January. He has accused the Kremlin of interfering in US elections, launching cyberattacks and harboring cyberattackers.

But last week's meeting saw the two countries' leaders share some common ground, including agreeing that "nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought."

Members of the US team deemed the talks "quite successful."

kmm/nm (AFP, AP)