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Russia to expel 60 U.S. diplomats in tit-for-tat response

Russia to expel 60 U.S. diplomats in tit-for-tat response
UPI

March 29 (UPI) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday the country will expel 60 U.S. diplomats, a tit-for-tat retaliation to the U.S. expulsion of 60 Russian agents.

Under the provisions of the expulsion — in retaliation to a U.S. announcement this week to jettison 60 Russian diplomats — the U.S. representatives will need to leave the Consulate General in St. Petersburg by Saturday, the ministry said. The 60 diplomats, including 58 employees of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and two staff members of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg, will have have to be out of Russia by April 5.

“U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has been summoned to our ministry, where my deputy Sergei Ryabkov is briefing him on the tit-for-tat steps against the U.S.,” Lavrov said Thursday. “They include the expulsion of the same number of diplomats and our decision to withdraw consent to the work of the Consulate General in St. Petersburg.”

On Monday, U.S. officials ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian agents from diplomatic missions in the United States and the closing of Russia’s consulate in Seattle. The U.S. move was based on the suspected nerve agent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, earlier this month in Great Britain.

United States officials joined NATO allies in expelling Russian agents from their countries. More than 20 nations have said they will kick out Russian diplomats.

“Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom,” was “the latest in its ongoing pattern of destabilizing activities around the world.” a White House release said.

The expulsion of dozens of Russia diplomats makes “the United States safer by reducing Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s national security, ” the release continued.

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