The Financial Express

Russia to expel 10 US diplomats in retaliatory move

| Updated: April 19, 2021 12:00:03

Vehicles drive past the embassy of the US in Moscow -Reuters file photo Vehicles drive past the embassy of the US in Moscow -Reuters file photo

Russia will ask 10 US diplomats to leave the country in retaliation for Washington's expulsion of the same number of Russian diplomats over alleged malign activity, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

The US government on Thursday imposed a broad array of sanctions on Russia, including curbs to its sovereign debt market, to punish it for interfering in last year's US election, cyber hacking, bullying Ukraine and other alleged malign actions, reports Reuters.

Russia denies all the US allegations.

On Friday, Lavrov, speaking at a news conference with his Serbian counterpart, laid out Russia's response.

Apart from expelling 10 US diplomats, he said Moscow would place eight US officials on a sanctions list and end the activity in Russia of US funds and NGOs which it believes interfere in the country's internal affairs.

He said Russia was also considering possible "painful" measures aimed at US business in Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had earlier on Friday called the US sanctions unacceptable, even as it left the door open to dialogue.

US President Joe Biden, after imposing the sanctions on Moscow, had called for a de-escalation in tensions and said it was vital the White House and Kremlin kept communication lines open.

Biden has proposed that he and Putin meet for a summit.

"(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," Peskov told reporters 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," Peskov added however.

Fears of US sanctions had caused volatility on Russian markets for weeks and prompted the rouble to fall sharply. The national currency recovered much of that ground though as it became clear the sanctions had stopped short of crippling measures that would ban US banks from holding Russian debt.

Russia-US ties slumped to a new post-Cold War low last month after Biden said he thought Putin was a "killer" and Moscow recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations. The envoy has still not returned almost a month later.

The Kremlin says Putin has yet to decide whether he will take part in a US-led climate summit next week. It has also said that it would be hard to quickly organise a Putin-Biden summit.

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