MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. Moscow regards the departure of Russian diplomats from the United States as an act of expulsion, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
"We view the US demand as an act of expulsion and intend to resort to retaliatory measures," she vowed. "Members of the US Embassy in Russia, who have been on their mission here for more than three years, must leave Russia before January 31, 2022."
Zakharova stressed that the United States has no authority of dictating the terms of departure and suspension of missions for Russian diplomats.
"Russia sent them there on their mission based on the staff policy of our ministry and the diplomatic service," she explained. "[Our] American partners devised for us how Russian diplomats should leave the United States by terminating their duties."
"This certainly goes beyond diplomatic norms," she emphasized.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman provided a scathing description of the US measures, branding them as "an obvious encroachment on a sovereign right of a country, which sends its representatives and diplomats on missions, and defines the terms of their stay in the country of their destination and does it in line with the laws and regulations stipulated by the hosting side."
"I want to emphasize that this was not our choice," Zakharova continued. "Our American partners have forced this sort of game upon us. We have been consistently trying to reason with them for a long time in order to seek a constructive resolution to the issue, but they made their choice."
Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said earlier that 27 Russian diplomats and their families would have to leave the United States on January 30, 2022 and another 27 diplomats will have to depart by June 30, 2020 because their visas have not been extended by the American authorities. He stressed that the problem of visa issuance for Russian diplomats remained unsolved, and they were being deliberately separated from their families.