The Biden administration has told Russia that 24 of its diplomatic personnel must leave the U.S. by September 3, according to Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov on Sunday. The State Department did not respond to American Military News’ request for comment at the time of publishing on Monday.
In an interview with The National Interest, which was published on Sunday, Antonov said, “We received a list of twenty-four diplomats who are expected to leave the country before September 3, 2021. Almost all of them will leave without replacements because Washington has abruptly tightened visa issuing procedures.”
“Regardless of the Biden administration’s declarations concerning the important role of diplomacy and willingness to develop stable and predictable relations with our country, the Russian diplomatic presence experiences continuous strikes,” Antonov said.
Antonov accused the U.S. of a pattern of “squeezing Russian diplomats out of the country.”
“It has gotten to the point where the U.S. authorities cancel valid visas of spouses and children of our staff with no reasons provided,” Antonov said. “The widespread delays in renewing expired visas are also aimed at squeezing Russian diplomatic workers out of the country. As a result, about sixty of my colleagues (130 together with family members) cannot return to their motherland even under urgent humanitarian circumstances.”
As of April, there were about 450 Russian diplomatic personnel in the U.S., according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency. Among those diplomatic personnel, about 150 people work at Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, and the remaining 300 are at Russia’s embassy in Washington D.C. and consulates throughout the U.S.
TASS reported in April that the U.S. was looking to shrink the number of Russian diplomats in the country to about 150 people total. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned at the time that Russia would similarly seek to shrink the number of U.S. diplomats allowed in Russia.
In April, President Joe Biden ordered the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats and sanctioned 32 more Russian individuals and entities. The Biden administration linked his actions against Russia to alleged Russian government-directed 2020 election interference efforts and the hack of the U.S. software company, SolarWinds. Russia retaliated a day later by expelling 10 U.S. diplomats from Russia.