By Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler, CNN
The US is expelling the second most senior diplomat at the Russian embassy in Washington as a response to the expulsion of the second ranking US diplomat in Moscow earlier this year, according to the State Department.
“We can confirm that the United States informed the Russian Embassy that we are expelling its Minister Counselor,” a State Department spokesperson said, noting that the deputy chief of mission at the Russian Embassy had “previously departed as part of a normal rotation,” so the Minister Counselor “is the next most senior official at the Russian Embassy.”
“We are taking these actions as a direct response to the unprovoked Russian expulsion of our Deputy Chief of Mission, who was given two weeks to depart, despite the fact that he had not completed his three-year tour,” the spokesperson said.
Russia was notified of the decision on Wednesday, and the diplomat has been given a few weeks to leave the US, the official said.
The official said the decision was not related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which took place after Moscow was notified of the expulsion.
US Deputy Chief of Mission in Moscow Bart Gorman was expelled by Russia earlier this year and given two weeks to depart the country, according to a senior US State Department official.
Gorman left Russia in February and has returned to the United States, the official said.
“We have been crystal clear with the Russians on where we stand — parity and fairness,” the spokesperson said.
Russia has continually forced the US to reduce the size of its diplomatic footprint in the country in recent years.
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