The United States is preparing to expel over two dozen more Russian diplomats by January, as part of ongoing tit-for-tat punitive efforts which previously saw the Russian government forbit its citizens from serving as local staff for the US Embassy in Russia, greatly reducing its ability to process visas and other actions in a timely manner.
The Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov revealed over the weekend in an interview that "our diplomats are being expelled" and detailed that 27 diplomats and their families are due to be expelled from American soil.
"A large group of my comrades, 27 people with families, will leave us on January 30," Antonov described according to Reuters. He said the embassy and consulates are now "facing a serious staff shortage."
This follows two dozen Russian diplomats being told to leave in September, with the US refusing to renew their visas as is the normative practice. When that prior event happened, Amb. Antonov complained, "It has gotten to the point where the U.S. authorities cancel valid visas of spouses and children of our staff with no reasons provided. The widespread delays in renewing expired visas are also aimed at squeezing Russian diplomatic workers out of the country."
The State Department at the same time has downplayed that the moves have been retaliatory, instead framing it as but the result of an expired, unrenewed visa issue.
On Monday Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov lashed out at Washington. He was cited in Russian media sources as demanding the US "must stop"...
"We will definitely respond. We have already warned the US side that in order to prevent a further decline of personnel numbers here we cannot help but to respond. They must stop," Ryabkov said.
And he described further, according to Sputnik that "the matter of issuing visas for Russian diplomats travelling to the US remains acute. He slammed Washington for perpetuating the practice of intentionally separating the families of diplomats by denying some of them visas."
In October Congressional hawks actually proposed an even bigger wave of expulsions, which would damage relations to the point of potentially breaking US-Russia communications altogether.
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