Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
FILE - Jon M. Huntsman Jr., U.S. ambassador to Russia, speaks at a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. Russia needs to change its behavior around the world before relations with the United States can improve, said Jon Huntsman Jr.

SALT LAKE CITY — Russia needs to change its behavior around the world before relations with the United States can improve, said U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr.

“The United States is ready to cooperate and forge a better relationship between our two countries. But that will only be possible when Russia chooses to become a more responsible partner,” he said in a brief video posted on the U.S. Embassy website.

Huntsman’s comments came on the heels of President Donald Trump announcing the expulsion of 60 Russian intelligence officers and the closing of the Russian consulate in Seattle.

The order came in response to a “military grade chemical weapons attack” in Britain in “yet the latest in a pattern of destabilizing activities by Russia around the world,” the former Utah governor said.

At least 21 countries have now have ousted more than 135 Russians, including 23 kicked out earlier by Britain.

“With these actions, the United States along with its allies and partners make clear to Russia that its actions have consequences,” Huntsman said.

Still, he said the bonds between people in the U.S. and Russia remain strong.

Huntsman headed to Russia as U.S. ambassador last October recognizing the relationship between the two countries is at a low point.

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In an interview with a Moscow radio station earlier this year, Huntsman suggested that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would meet in the "not-too-distant" future.

"We have to take the steps that build the trust and create a framework of problem-solving that results in enough success where the people in Russia and the people in the United States can say, 'OK I understand why they’re having a formal meeting. They’ve done enough together, they’ve built enough trust. They’ve had enough in the way of success in Syria and Ukraine, (North Korea),’" he told Echo of Moscow.