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Russia moves to expel U.S. diplomats in tit-for-tat move – Metro US

Russia moves to expel U.S. diplomats in tit-for-tat move

Russian and U.S. state flags fly near a factory of
Russian and U.S. state flags fly near a factory of Ford Sollers in Vsevolozhsk

(Reuters) – The United States Embassy in Moscow on Wednesday received a list of its diplomats that were declared “persona non grata”, a State Department spokesperson said, in what Russian media said was a response to a U.S. move ousting Russian staff at the United Nations.

Washington last month said it was expelling 12 Russian diplomats at the country’s U.N. mission in New York over national security concerns, and later announced it would oust an additional Russian at the U.N. who it said was a spy.

Russia, which denies the allegations, told the United States on Wednesday it would throw out an unspecified number of American diplomats in response to the moves, Interfax news agency said.

“The American side was told very firmly that any hostile U.S. actions against Russia would provoke a decisive and comparable response,” the agency said.

The move comes as the United States and its allies weigh further sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

A State Department spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the U.S. Embassy received a list of diplomats declared ‘persona non grata’ from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on March 23.”

“This is Russia’s latest unhelpful and unproductive step in our bilateral relationship … Now more than ever, it is critical that our countries have the necessary diplomatic personnel in place to facilitate communication between our governments,” the spokesperson said.

Neither the spokesperson nor Interfax specified how many people were affected or when they would have to leave.

(This story corrects spelling in first paragraph)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Rami Ayyub; Editing by Gareth Jones and Stephen Coates)

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