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Russia retaliates against Biden, kicking 10 US diplomats out of Russia and blacklisting more after Biden kicked out Russian diplomats

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Adam Schultz/White House) | Russian President Vladimir Putin during virtual meetings on March 18, 2021. (Kremlin/Released)
April 16, 2021

On Friday, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it would expel 10 U.S. officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and block another eight current and former U.S. officials from entering Russia on an indefinite basis, in what it called a “mirrored response to sanctions against Russian officials.”

The Russian move comes a day after President Joe Biden announced the expulsion of 10 current Russian officials working at the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C., along with a raft of new sanctions on Russian individuals and entities. The Biden administration announced the sanctions as a response to Russia’s suspected involvement in the wide-ranging SolarWinds hack and alleged Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. elections to harm then-candidate Biden.

“On the basis of reciprocity, the expulsion of employees of US diplomatic missions will follow in an amount commensurate with the action carried out by the US authorities against Russian diplomats,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

Russia also took note of U.S. support for a move by Poland to expel three Russian diplomats from Russia’s Warsaw embassy.

“We noticed how quickly the US Administration sang along in Warsaw, demanding the departure of three Russian diplomats from Poland,” the Russian Foriegn Ministry said. “In turn, five Polish diplomats will be expelled from Russia.”

The Russian Foriegn Ministry moved further to outright ban U.S. embassies and consulates in Russian from hiring Russians and citizens of other countries living in Russia.

Russia also said it would “terminate the activities” in Russia of U.S. funds and non-governmental organizations that are supported by the State Department and other U.S. government agencies. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, “This work, which has been carried out for a long time and systematically, will be brought to an end, especially against the background of the fact that the United States does not intend to reduce the scope of its subversive efforts.”

Russia vowed retaliation for the new U.S. sanctions on Thursday.

During a Friday press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the scope of the new U.S. sanctions is “quite manageable” but that Russia is holding in reserve more “painful measures” it could use against U.S. companies in Russia.

In Thursday statement, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan announced he had been summoned to speak with his Russian counterparts about the new sanctions. Sullivan said, “We have been clear that we desire a relationship with Russia that is stable and predictable. However, we have also been clear – publicly and privately – that we will defend our national interests and impose costs on the Russian government for its actions that seek to harm our sovereignty, or our allies, partners, and values.”

During a Thursday press conference a senior Biden administration official said “we do not desire a downward spiral” with Russia “but we have also been clear, publicly and privately, that we will defend our national interests and that we will impose costs on Russian government actions that seek to harm our sovereignty.”

During his Friday remarks, Lavrov suggested the Kremlin is considering a Biden administration offer to meet in a third country to discuss normalizing relations.