Russia orders some US diplomatic staff to leave as embassy expands

FILE PHOTO: Car drives past the US embassy in Moscow
FILE PHOTO: Vehicles drive past the US embassy in Moscow, Russia August 21, 2017. REUTERS / Grigory Dukor / File Photo

December 1, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Wednesday it had ordered US embassy staff who had been in Moscow more than three years to fly home by January 31, a move in retaliation for what Moscow said was a US decision to limit Russian terms. diplomats.

It is the latest step in an escalating diplomatic row, which comes after Russia’s ambassador to the United States said last week 27 Russian diplomats and their families had been expelled from the US and would be leaving next week. January 30th.

“We… intend to respond accordingly. State Department spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had been in Moscow for more than three years and had to leave Russia before January 31.

The RIA news agency quoted her as saying that the new US regulations mean that Russian diplomats forced to leave the United States are also barred from working as diplomats in the United States for three years.

“By July 1 next year, unless Washington waives the three-year rule and the compromises, there will be more (US) (in Russia) workers leaving in numbers commensurate with the number of workers,” she said. Russia announced by the US State Department.

There was no immediate comment from the US embassy in Moscow.

Further reductions in US embassy staff in Moscow will put pressure on an operation Washington has described as close to a “carer presence” amid tit-for-tat deportations and other acts of violence. other limitations.

The embassy is the last US agency to operate in the country after consulates in Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg were closed and it was reduced to 120 staff from about 1,200 in early 2017, Washington said. .

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said it would not be too late for Washington to prevent Moscow from implementing new expulsion orders if it abandoned its plan to expel Russian diplomats.

Relations between Washington and Moscow, at their lowest point since the Cold War in years, are under pressure due to the Russian military buildup near Ukraine.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Tom Balmforth; additional reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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DUSTIN JONES

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