MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. Several Russian diplomats will have to leave the United States at the beginning of 2023, and Russia will respond to that but not necessarily symmetrically, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Tuesday.
"Of course, we always comply with the [US] administration’s orders, that is why several of our employees will have to leave [the United States]. The Americans have imposed an absolutely unmotivated and absolutely ungrounded three-year limit on the stay of our colleagues. They are imposing their rules in this sphere and we always respond. We always respond tit for tat, but not always symmetrically," he said.
He placed the blame for the continuing series of reciprocal expulsions of diplomats on the United States. "They are lamenting that they don’t have enough personnel here. They are to blame for that. We did not start it," Ryabkov noted.
According to the Russian senior diplomat, Washington has turned the operation of diplomatic missions into an instrument of pressure on Russia, although Moscow has proposed steps to stabilize this matter. "It is obvious that some steps toward stabilizing this matter could have been done last year and even before. We have proposed that dozens of times but the Americans keep on pressing their point, <…> they have turned the work of diplomatic personnel into not even a bargaining chip but into an instrument of political pressure on us," he said.
However, he refused to say how many American diplomats will leave Moscow at the beginning of the next year. "We are closely watching to make sure the US personnel leave in line with our requests. I am not ready to say right now how many people will leave Moscow at the turn of the year or in January. Ii is not that important after all. Everything is under control and we keep a close eye on these matters," he added.