In retaliation, Moscow Asks 10 American Diplomats to Leave Russia
Russia has ordered 10 American diplomats to leave the country after the United States expelled the same number of Russian diplomats over what Washington alleged as malign actions, saying that the US ambassador should also go back home for some consultations.
In a statement by Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday, Moscow expelled 10 US diplomats and banned eight high-ranking “incumbent and former US high-ranking officials and figures, who have been involved in working out and implementing the anti-Russian policy.”
It also explained that US Ambassador in Moscow John Sullivan was also advised to leave the country for Washington for consultations.
Under the retaliatory measures, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, US Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas are banned from entering the Russian Federation.
The four other American officials who face an entry ban are Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Michael Carvajal, Director of the Domestic Policy Council Susan Rice, John Bolton, the former U.S. National Security Advisor, and ex-CIA head Robert James Woolsey.
Furthermore, the Russian foreign ministry explained that it would also terminate the activity in Russia of American funds and NGOs which Moscow believes interfere in Russia’s domestic affairs.
The tit-for-tat measures came just a day after Washington announced economic sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what it alleged as election interference, a massive cyber-attack, and other hostile activity.
Under the new sanctions, the US Treasury Department will block American financial institutions from purchasing bonds from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation after June 14 and from lending funds to those institutions.
Moreover, Washington is imposing sanctions on six Russian technology companies that it claims work with Russian intelligence operations, as well as 32 individuals involved in Russia’s purported efforts to influence the 2020 election in favor of Donald Trump, the Republican candidate who lost to incumbent President Joe Biden.
The measures are part of an executive order signed by Biden that also leaves open the possibility for the White House to expand the sanctions on Russian sovereign debt.
Although the Kremlin swiftly responded to the latest round of sanctions against Russia, it also left the door open for dialog.
“Now is the time for the United States to demonstrate good sense and to turn its back on a confrontational course,” the statement by the Russian foreign ministry said, stressing, “Otherwise an array of painful decisions for the American side will be implemented.”
The new measures against the US are part of a broader retaliatory package that has been approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“(Putin) has repeatedly said we’re ready to develop dialogue as much as our counterparts are ready to do so. In this sense it is probably positive that the views of the two heads of state coincide,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov at a press conference before the Russian counter-sanctions were unveiled.
“Their views categorically do not coincide when it comes to creating mutually beneficial relations and taking each other’s interests into account,” he added.
Moscow also said the Russian president had yet to decide whether he would take part in a US-led climate summit next week.
Bilateral relations have been in a free fall since 2014 when the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea rejoined Russia following a referendum. More than 90 percent of participants in the referendum voted in favor of unification. The US, the European Union, and Ukraine claim that Russia has annexed the region. Moscow strongly rejects the allegation.
Kiev and its Western allies, including the US, accuse Moscow of having a hand in the persisting and deadly crisis in Ukraine’s eastern regions. Moscow denies the allegation.
In the past six years or so, the US has imposed waves of sanctions against Russia, including over the alleged hacking of its 2016 presidential elections and the recent jailing of pro-Western blogger Alexei Navalny.
Source: Press TV