Moscow (dpa) – In response to the expulsion of ten Russian diplomats from the United States and three from Poland, Russia will expel a total of 13 diplomats from the country’s two states. This was announced by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Friday evening, the Interfax agency reports.
In addition, Russia imposed sanctions on the United States. Lavrov said Russia would also curtail the work of US organizations and foundations meddling in the country’s internal affairs. Business trips to Russia by American diplomats would also be largely scaled back.
The minister also announced that eight US officials would be banned from entering the country completely. The names should be on the “blacklist” Friday night. He also advised US Ambassador John Sullivan to travel home to hold consultations in Washington. Russia had previously withdrawn its ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, from Washington.
The White House in Washington ordered eviction in retaliation for a hacking attack attributed to Moscow and interference in the US election on Thursday. In addition, a number of new sanctions have been imposed. These include six Russian technology companies that support Moscow’s secret services. In addition, according to the US, 32 people and organizations are being sanctioned who tried to influence the US elections on behalf of Moscow.
From Washington’s point of view, the punitive measures must also include retaliation for a massive hacker attack on US government departments, authorities and businesses that US security authorities suspect is behind Russia. The attackers had gained access to the networks using SolarWinds maintenance software, which was widely used and went unnoticed for months. The case, which became public in December, was an embarrassing setback for the US security forces.
Poland had justified its decision by the fact that the staff of the Russian embassy violated the conditions for diplomats and acted to the detriment of Poland. The country was in solidarity with the decisions the US had made in its policy towards Russia, Warsaw said.
A response from Russia was expected. The Kremlin had previously announced, “The principle of reciprocity in such matters has not been abolished.” The decision will be made by President Vladimir Putin, his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said, according to the Interfax office. Relations between the two countries have long been compromised.
After the punitive measures, US President Joe Biden initially adopted a more conciliatory tone, emphasizing that he did not want to further stir tensions with Moscow. The Kremlin welcomed Biden’s desire to de-escalate. The two presidents had spoken only a few days ago. Biden suggested a meeting of the heads of state in a third country.