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Russia to expel a number of US diplomats in tit-for-tat move: Interfax

Russia to expel a number of US diplomats in tit-for-tat move: Interfax

Russian and US state flags fly near a factory of Ford Sollers, a joint venture of US carmaker Ford with Russian partners, in Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad Region, Russia, on Mar 27, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Anton Vaganov)

Russia told the United States on Wednesday (Mar 23) it would throw out an unspecified number of American diplomats in response to a US move to expel Russian staff from the permanent UN mission, Interfax news agency said.

The agency also cited the Russian foreign ministry as telling the United States that any hostile actions against Moscow would provoke a decisive response.

Last month Washington said it had expelled 12 Russian diplomats at the United Nations over national security concerns, describing them as "intelligence operatives".

Interfax said the Russian ministry had presented a senior US diplomat in Moscow with a list of people who had to leave "in response to Washington's expulsion of diplomats from the permanent UN mission in New York".

Interfax did not say how many people were affected or when they would have to leave.

"The American side was told very firmly that any hostile US 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.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said he was not aware of the impending expulsion.

"We believe that ready, open lines of communication are indispensable, especially during times of heightened tension, especially during times of conflict," he told a briefing.

Existing restrictions on the number of US diplomats allowed to work in Moscow mean "there is not much to give in terms of our ability to continue with a functioning embassy ... (if) there are further personnel limits", he said.

Source: Reuters/ec

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