Russia expelled the second-most senior diplomat at the US embassy in response to the expulsion of a Russian diplomat from the US, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement published late Thursday.
Last week, US Deputy Chief of Mission in Moscow Bart Gorman was expelled without any justification in what the Biden administration views as an escalatory move, the State Department said on Thursday. It happened while Russia and the US are in a tense standoff over Ukraine, which the US says it fears Moscow plans to invade.
Zakharova explained: “The American diplomat was indeed ordered to leave Russia, but strictly in response to the unreasonable expulsion of the Minister-Counsellor of our Embassy in Washington, despite his status as a leading official."
“We repeat once again: the mass expulsions of diplomats and the growing visa war is not our choice,” she said.