On October 5th, U.S. Democratic and Republican senators urged President Joe Biden to expel 300 Russian diplomats from the United States.
This should be a tit-for-tat response if Moscow does not issue more visas for Americans to represent Washington in Russia.
Under a decree that was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in 2021, Moscow was authorized to restrict or ban employment contracts of Russian citizens with “state bodies and state institutions of foreign states committing unfriendly acts against the Russian Federation.”
As a result of this decree, 182 US employees were dismissed from Washington’s mission in Russia.
“This disproportionality in diplomatic representation is unacceptable,” the senators wrote in the letter. Currently there are about 100 US diplomats in Russia, compared with 400 Russian diplomats across the United States, they said.
“Russia must issue enough visas to approach parity between the number of American diplomats serving in Russia and the number of Russian diplomats serving in the United States,” they said.
“If such action is not taken,” they said, Washington should “begin expelling Russian diplomats, to bring the US diplomatic presence to parity.”
Russia in April also ordered 10 American diplomats to leave the country after the United States expelled Russian diplomats. At the time, relations between the two world powers had deteriorated because Biden said that Putin is a “killer.”
Back in August, the Russian ambassador to the United States says Washington has called for the “expulsion” of 24 Russian diplomats by September.
“We received a list of 24 diplomats who are expected to leave the country before September 3, 2021,” Ambassador Anatoly Antonov told US monthly The National Interest.
“Almost all of them will leave without replacements because Washington has abruptly tightened visa-issuing procedures,” he said.
Deploring the latest expulsions, Antonov said the White House had become “persistent and creative in this business.”
“We hope that common sense will prevail and we will be able to normalize the life of Russian and American diplomats in the United States and Russia on the principle of reciprocity,” Antonov added.
In response to his remarks, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, the Russians knew their visas would expire after three years and that they were free to apply for extensions.
He described Antonov’s remarks as “inaccurate.”
Tensions between Moscow and Washington were expected to be eased after the June summit between Biden and his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, in Geneva. The two sides, however, have seen deep-seated differences over a host of issues.
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