US lying about expulsion of Russian diplomats – ambassador
The US is deliberately distorting the facts regarding the departure of 55 Russian diplomats in order to mislead the international community, Moscow’s representative in Washington claimed on Monday.
According to news agency Interfax, Anatoly Antonov slammed the US State Department as “cunning” and accused it of making statements that have “nothing to do with reality.”
In 2022, 55 Russian diplomats will have to leave the US, in line with a new American policy to only allow them to stay for three years.
On Monday, Deputy US State Department Spokeswoman Jalina Porter said that the departure of Russian representatives was not an “expulsion” and “not punitive,” and they can be “replaced” by other members of the diplomatic corps. According to Porter, this brings the American policy in line with how Moscow treats US diplomats.
However, according to Antonov, Washington is singling out Russia, and the diplomats of other countries are subject to a five-year period of stay in the US. America’s unilateral decision to place a shorter limit on Russian diplomats is tantamount to the US “trying to limit the sovereign right of Russia to make its own staffing decisions,” he said.
“The US Side has made it clear that in case of refusal to fulfil this request, the immunity and other diplomatic privileges of the Russian employees will be revoked. This is a de facto expulsion,” he continued.
As things stand, both the Russian Embassy in Washington and the American Embassy in Moscow are suffering from staff issues. Multiple rounds of tit-for-tat expulsions have left diplomatic missions limiting their services, such as the US decision to no longer process visa applications by Russians.
According to Antonov, Russia is in favour of nullifying “all the restrictions of recent years” and getting both countries’ diplomatic missions back to normal.
“Our proposals remain on the table,” he said.