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Russia to expel 60 US diplomats

March 29, 2018, 20:30 UTC+3

The US Consulate General in St. Petersburg will also be closed in response to US actions over Skripal case

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MOSCOW, March 29. /TASS/. Russia will expel 60 US diplomats and close the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

"US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has been summoned to our ministry, where my deputy Sergei Ryabkov is briefing him on the tit-for-tat steps against the US," he said.

"They include the expulsion of the same number of diplomats and our decision to withdraw consent to the work of the Consulate General in St. Petersburg."

US representatives should fully move out of the building of the Consulate General in St Petersburg not later than Saturday, March 31, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. 

The response

Russia has declared 58 employees of the US Embassy in Moscow and two staff members of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg personae non gratae, they will have to leave the country by April 5, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

"On March 29, US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov handed over to him a note of protest over the outrageous and unsubstantiated demands by the US authorities that 60 Russian diplomats leave the US and the Russian Consulate General in Seattle be closed and also in connection with the US authorities’ intention to seize its premises. That was preceded by the seizure of five other facilities in the US owned by Russia in 2016-2017," the ministry said.

"Based on the reciprocity principle, as a retaliatory measure, 58 employees of the US Embassy in Moscow and two staff members of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg have been declared personae non gratae for the activities incompatible with their diplomatic status," the ministry said. "They will have to leave the Russian Federation by April 5, 2018."

Besides, Moscow has revoked its consent to the opening and operations of the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg. "The American representatives are expected to move out of the administrative building, which was granted to them for their establishment, no later than March 31," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.

Russia also demanded from Huntsman explanations regarding "his public statements on a possible freezing of Russian state assets in the US."

"The American side has been warned the materialization of this threat will bring about a further serious degradation of our relations and will be fraught with harsh aftermaths for global stability," the ministry noted.

Apart from that, the ambassador was told that "in the event of continued hostile moves against the Russian diplomatic and consular missions in the US, additional measures will be taken against the personnel and facilities of the US Embassy and Consulates General in Russia." "

The US authorities encouraging and fomenting a smear campaign against our country were offered to reconsider their approach and stop reckless actions to ruin bilateral relations," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

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