WASHINGTON – In a move that further strains the already tense relations between the United States and Russia, the US State Department announced on Friday that it has expelled two Russian embassy officials from Washington. This decision comes as a direct response to Russia’s earlier action of expelling two American diplomats from Moscow.
The unidentified Russian diplomats were given seven days to depart the US. (File)
The US’s retaliatory step is seen as the latest in a series of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions that have been ongoing between the two superpowers. The recent expulsions have been linked to allegations against US diplomats for having contact with a former consular employee accused of collecting sensitive information. The US has vehemently denied these allegations, labeling them as baseless.
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller emphasized the US’s stance, stating, “The Department will not tolerate the Russian government’s pattern of harassment of our diplomats.” The expelled Russian officials have been given a week to leave the country, mirroring the seven-day notice given to US diplomats Jeffrey Sillin and David Bernstein, who were instructed to depart Russia last month.
The accusations against Sillin and Bernstein revolved around their alleged contacts with a former employee of the US consulate in Vladivostok. This individual was later found guilty of gathering confidential data. The back-and-forth expulsions between the US and Russia have been a recurring theme, with tensions escalating even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
As the diplomatic rift widens, experts and political analysts are closely monitoring the situation, speculating on the potential ramifications this could have on global politics and the future of US-Russia relations.