Vladimir Putin’s news conference following BRICS Summit -
September 5, 2017
Vladimir Putin answered Russian journalists’ questions following his visit to China to take part in the BRICS Summit.
[...] Question: One of the top news stories these days is the US decision to shut down several Russian diplomatic facilities, which in essence amounts to another instance of seizing diplomatic property.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has used the words “seizure” and “searches”. You have not said anything on this matter so far. Will you comment on it now? Will Russia respond to all this? If so, what response would it be?
Vladimir Putin: The thing is that we have agreed with our partners that Russia and the United States should have parity in terms of personnel or diplomats in their missions in each other’s country. I believe there were 1,300 American diplomats working in Russia and 455 Russian diplomats in the United States. We have balanced the figure.
I would like you to take note of the fact that this figure, 455 Russian diplomats working in the United States, also includes (provisionally) the 155 Russians working at the United Nations. Strictly speaking, they are not diplomats accredited at the US Department of State but diplomats working at an international organisation.
When the United States wanted the UN to be headquartered in New York, it pledged to properly ensure its operation. So strictly speaking, the number of American diplomats in Moscow should be not 455 but 155 fewer, if we are talking about parity.
So, we reserve the right to take a new decision on the number of American diplomats in Moscow. We will not do this immediately but will see how things develop.
The Americans had the right to reduce the number of our diplomatic offices. It is another matter altogether that they have done this in way that was absolutely uncivil. This does not do reflect well on our American partners.
It is difficult to talk to people who confuse Austria and Australia. But there is nothing we can do about this; this is the level of political culture among part of the American establishment.
As for the American people, America is truly a great nation if the Americans can put up with so many politically uncivilised people.
Question: Mr President, you have already mentioned that you touched upon the issue of the DPRK when you spoke to the Prime Minister of Japan and the President of South Korea…
Vladimir Putin: Excuse me, but, with regard to the buildings and structures, this is unprecedented. As a graduate of the St Petersburg University law department, I, or any other lawyer for that matter, can tell you that property rights consist of three elements: the right to own, use, and dispose of such property.
The United States stripped Russia of the right to use our property, which is a clear violation of Russia’s property rights. So, to begin with, I will ask our Foreign Ministry to file a lawsuit. We will see how effectively the much-lauded American judicial system works. [...]