Russia says US asked 24 of its diplomats to leave by September 3rd
- Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov made the claim this weekend
- Antonov said nearly all two dozen would leave without replacements
- State Department Spokesman Ned Price attributed it to visa limits rather than retaliatory action, adding the 3-year limit on Russian visas wasn’t new
- Russia forced the US embassy in Moscow to let go of nearly 200 employees
- Price condemned the move as ‘unfortunate’ and ‘negative’ for diplomacy
- Relations between the US and Russia have been frosty and President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a ‘killer’ in March
- The tense relationship thawed somewhat after a June Biden-Putin summit
Russian Ambassador to US Anatoly Antonov said the diplomats would be forced to leave by September 3
Russia’s ambassador to the United States said Washington had asked two dozen Russian diplomats to leave the country by September 3 after their visas expire, heightening tensions between the two countries.
Ambassador Anatoly Antonov didn’t say whether the US action was prompted by a particular dispute in an interview with National Interest on Sunday.
He said nearly all would be leaving without replacements ‘because Washington has abruptly tightened visa issuing procedures.’
State Department spokesperson Ned Price responding to the comments during a press briefing Monday.
Price said Washington was not using Russian diplomats’ visas to retaliate against Moscow. He said the ambassador’s characterization was ‘not accurate.’
‘The three year limit on visa validity for Russians is nothing new. When visas expire, as you might expect, these individuals are expected to leave the country or apply for an extension. That is what is at play here,’ he told reporters.
State Department Spokesman Ned Price said Russians being asked to leave after their three-year visas expire is ‘nothing new’ in a department briefing on Monday
The departure of Russian diplomats over tightening visa restrictions threatens to exacerbate tensions between the two nations
Chilly relations between Putin (right) and Biden thawed somewhat when the two leaders met for talks in June
Those applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, he said.
Moscow and Washington have long differed over a range of issues, and ties worsened after President Joe Biden said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was a killer.
Tensions somewhat eased after Biden met Putin for talks on June 16th, which even led to the return of some foreign investors’ money into Russian government bonds.
But starting in August Russia banned the US embassy in Moscow from retaining, hiring or contracting Russian or third-country staff, except for guards, forcing the mission to let go of 182 employees and dozens of contractors, the State Department said on Friday.
On Monday Price called the move ‘unfortunate’ and added that actions like it have a ‘negative impact’ on US-Russia diplomacy and potentially US personnel safety.
‘We reserve the right to take appropriate response measures to Russia’s actions,’ Price said, adding that the US would ‘strongly object’ if the country took similar action against US allies.
Washington imposed sanctions on Russia in March and April for interfering in last year´s US election, cyber hacking, bullying Ukraine and other alleged malign actions, but Price said those moves were ‘a response’ rather than an escalation.
In his interview Russian Ambassador Antonov said ‘We hope that common sense will prevail and we will be able to normalize the life of Russian and American diplomats in the United States and Russia on the principle of reciprocity.’
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