TOKYO (AP) — Russia's ambassador to Tokyo blamed Japan on Friday for straining relations between the countries by imposing sanctions on Moscow over its war with Ukraine.
Mikhail Galuzin also accused the United States of attempting to isolate Russia from the international community and of pressuring many countries into supporting a U.N. General Assembly resolution against Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
“The unfriendly action from the Japanese side unfortunately worsened our relations greatly. And now the future of our relation is uncertain,” Galuzin said at a news conference in Tokyo.
Japan has joined the United States and European nations in sanctioning Russia over its invasion. It is concerned about the possible impact of the invasion in Asia, where China’s military has grown increasingly assertive and conducts regular exercises threatening self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims.
In response to Japan's sanctions, Moscow has suspended talks on a peace treaty with Tokyo, including negotiations over Russian-held islands claimed by Japan, that would formally end their World War II hostilities.
Galuzin, who is leaving his post in Tokyo, possibly later this month, said Japan should take the initiative if it wants to reconcile with Russia.
“The initiative should be from the side that destroyed the relations. So if and when the Japanese side feels that it is ready to present this initiative for the improvement of our relations, we will consider," Galuzin said.
A letter issued earlier Friday by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and signed by 42 mostly European diplomats based in Japan demanded that Galuzin provide “honest and factually accurate” answers at Friday's news conference.
Galuzin denied the letter's charge that Russia is occupying Ukraine, and countered that occupation is "what the United States is doing in many, many countries of the world, or had done in many countries of the world” including Syria and Iraq. He accused Washington of turning Iraq into a hub of terrorism, damaging and destabilizing the world. He also accused the United States and NATO of turning Ukraine into an anti-Russian state and driving more Ukrainian people into fighting and suffering.
Galuzin said the U.S. pressured developing nations to vote in favor of the U.N. resolution against the Ukraine war, saying unidentified countries “shared with us that they were threatened, they were blackmailed even by the United States diplomats within the United Nations."
Asked why Russian President Vladimir Putin is not attending next week's Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, Galuzin said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend on his behalf, adding, “From time to time, it happens.”
Associated Press video journalist Chisato Tanaka contributed to this report.