US expels two Russian diplomats in response to similar action by Moscow

The US State Department has confirmed two Russian diplomats have been removed from Moscow's Embassy in Washington.

The US State Department has confirmed two Russian diplomats have been removed from Moscow's Embassy in Washington. Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons (ShareAlike 2.5 Generic)

The expulsion is in response to Russia’s “specious expulsion of two US Embassy Moscow diplomats” last month, a spokesperson told CNN, adding that “the State Department reciprocated by declaring persona non grata two Russian Embassy officials operating in the United States.”

“The Department will not tolerate the Russian government’s pattern of harassment of our diplomats,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement as quoted by CNN. 
“The Department’s actions send a clear message that unacceptable actions against our Embassy personnel in Moscow will have consequences.”

The retaliatory expulsions took place amid ongoing tension between Russia and the US.

The development takes place at a time when Russia continues to invade Ukraine.

Russia's reaction

Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said two Russian diplomats are being expelled from the United States without any explanation as the State Department is simply taking revenge with another confrontational act.

"I can confirm that a few days ago the US authorities made this latest confrontational attack and declared 'persona non grata' to two diplomats of the Russian Embassy in Washington," Antonov was quoted as saying by Sputnik. 

"However, the following fact is surprising: when presenting the note on the expulsion, colleagues at the State Department assured us for some reason that they did not intend to advertise this story and share details with the press."

The US administration, he added, wanted to show that the recent expulsion of American diplomats from Russia for "subversive activities has not gone unanswered."

"It is noteworthy that when I asked during a meeting at the State Department to explain what exactly our colleagues were accused of, the interlocutors were unable to provide any arguments unless one counts the reference to the fact that, they say, the authorities of the host country are not obliged to explain anything. Thus, in fact, we are dealing with banal revenge, which does not honour American diplomacy," Antonov said.