“I do not comment on our daily contacts with our colleagues. Secondly, I had instructions not to discuss sanctions. We never discussed sanctions with anybody. And I assure you, I have honestly followed the instructions,” Kislyak told Rossiya-24.
“Sanctions aren’t our thing,” the retired diplomat said. “We don’t discuss or bargain about sanctions, because we believe they were implemented in an illegal, politically aggressive way to begin with.”
‘American exceptionalism is the problem’
While it would be difficult to lift the newly-imposed restrictive measures, Kislyak does not believe the US and Russia are back to the Cold War.
“No, it’s not the Cold War,” he said. “The problem in our relations, as I have tried to say, is in the sense of absolute exceptionalism of the Americans and their purported right to tell everyone else what is good and what is bad.”
The former Russian envoy to Washington blasted the sanctions, which he believes are aimed at impeding normal economic cooperation between Russia and the US.
“The economic sanctions, which we have been lately discussing a lot, were designed so that it will be very difficult to cancel them under the current conditions in America,” Kislyak said.
“The whole mechanism is made so that the US law would not give the opportunity to develop normality in economic relations with our country,” he added.
‘No secrets on our part’
Commenting on his conversation with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Kislyak said they were openly discussing “the simplest things.”
“We spoke about the simplest things… But the communication was completely specific, quiet, absolutely transparent. There were no secrets, at least on our part,” he stated.
After Flynn’s resignation in February, media outlets speculated over the content and consequences of his phone call with the Russian ambassador, which he had failed to report. Some claimed the main topic of the conversation was economic sanctions against Russia, though Flynn did not confirm it.
Kislyak declined to comment on the resignation, saying it is an American domestic issue.
The US never invited Kislyak to speak in front of a grand jury investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Kislyak called the procedure “far-fetched” and said that the US government has “jumped at a litigation built around false information,” wasting time that could be used on issues that really matter to Americans.
Meeting foreign officials is what diplomats do
While the Trump election campaign team has been repeatedly accused of having links with Russia, Hillary Clinton’s representatives refused to meet with the Russian ambassador.
“I can give you a long list of those from Clinton’s team who I wanted to visit, and they shied away from it. It’s quite a big list,” Kislyak said.
He added that, like any professional diplomat, he used every opportunity to build normal bilateral relations, trying to meet with different people, including those from the Democratic Party.
Near the end of Kislyak’s tenure in the US, he faced allegations of working for Russian intelligence and was even called a “top spy and recruiter of spies” by CNN. The diplomat believes that even implying such things shames the US.
“I believe that all the talks about the fact that I, the ambassador of the Russian Federation, am a spy, are shameful for a country like America,”Kislyak said.
“What has become normal to talk about now – how the Russian ambassador is wiretapped, how bugs were installed into his phone – it is becoming normal for America. It is an unhealthy society,” he said, adding that the FBI finally acknowledged that he was a diplomat, not a spy.
‘Anachronistic’: N. Korea slams ‘international hooligan US brandishing sanctions club’
The “DPRK strongly condemns and rejects the so-called unilateral sanctions by the US, and all other countries in the world also need to seriously ponder over the outrageous and unlawful act of the US,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK said in a statement, carried by KCNA.
Earlier this week, Donald Trump signed ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’ – one package, which ushers in further economic sanctions against North Korea, Iran and Russia.
Signing the bill, Trump stated that the legislation “sends a clear message to North Korea that the American people will not tolerate their dangerous and destabilizing behavior.”
North Korea quickly condemned the move and rejected America’s unilateral economic punitive measures, while calling Washington’s behavior a “criminal conduct.”
“The act of the US which is so fond of rigging up sanctions law and brandishing the sanctions club against other sovereign states is no better than that of a hooligan which cannot be allowed by international law,” the spokesman said.
Pyongyang reasoned that Washington is just “terrified” of the rapid advance of the Korean nuclear and missile program, which achieved an “undeniable reality” of possessing atomic and hydrogen bombs, as well as intercontinental ballistic means to deliver them. Pyongyang made clear that US sanctions will never work on North Korea.
“The sanctions campaign by the US might work on the other countries, but never with the DPRK,” the spokesman defiantly said. “The anachronistic daydream of the US politicians of damaging by means of sanctions the overall national power and strategic prestige of the DPRK which has been markedly boosted are being subject to humiliation within the US as well.”
The ministry advised Washington to focus on its national issues rather than “hopeless sanctions racket” against North Korea.
Pyongyang also criticized the travel ban the US State Department introduced for Americans starting from next month. The ban was prompted by the tragic and mysterious death of US college student Otto Warmbier in June who was previously jailed in North Korea.
The North Koreans called the travel ban “a vile measure to limit the people-to-people exchange so as not to allow the US citizens to see the true picture” of the DPRK.
“The US administration took this childish measure of issuing a travel ban to our country while finding fault with the exercise of legitimate right of the sovereign state,” the foreign ministry spokesman said, noting that “there is no country in the world that will ignore the foreigners who committed hostile acts within its territory.”
The US has meanwhile drafted a UN Security Council resolution which seeks to cripple North Korea’s remaining export revenue. It is due to be discussed Saturday, Reuters reports. A diplomatic source told the agency that the draft appears to be a “compromise” which does not target the Korean people, so there’s “confidence” that Russian and China would support it.
Moscow and Beijing have consistently maintained that strangling Pyongyang with new sanctions is not a way out of the crisis. China, though, has satisfied some of Washington’s demands and has reduced its level of cooperation with North Korea.
Instead, Russia and China has put forward a joint initiative that could help solve this crisis. It is based on the Chinese idea of a “double freezing” of both the missile and nuclear testing by the DPRK and the large-scale joint military exercises by the US and the South Korea, plus “parallel advance” towards a full denuclearization of the Peninsula.
The US, has however, rejected the idea, saying that military drills with allies is a decades-long ironclad policy, while insisting that Beijing is not doing enough to pressure its neighbor into submission.