Moscow Decides to Expel Vocal US Embassy Press Secretary, as Part of Tit-for-That Response to American Purge of Russian Diplomats
TEHRAN (FNA)- One of the most prominent American diplomats in Russia, Embassy Spokeswoman Rebecca Ross, has been told to prepare to return to Washington, she has confirmed.
The move comes amid a wave of expulsions on both sides of the Atlantic.
Russian Foreign Ministry sources said on Wednesday morning that Ross, who has been a vocal critic of the country’s policy, was among 10 US officials who would be henceforth designated personae non gratae. The diplomat herself later revealed to TASS that she had received notification confirming the decision.
Moscow daily Kommersant had reported earlier that the press secretary was at risk of being asked to leave the country, and sources confirmed this to RT. The envoys are said to have been given one month to prepare their departures.
“This is a mirror response to the hostile actions of the American side against a number of employees of the Russian Embassy in Washington and the General Consulate of Russia in New York, who were unreasonably declared personae non gratae,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said previously.
In April, US President Joe Biden announced that 10 Russian diplomats would be expelled from Washington. Moscow has been working to draw up its own list of names in response.
The decision was presented by the White House as a response to alleged Russian interference in the 2020 US presidential election and claims the country was behind the colossal SolarWinds cyber-espionage case. The Kremlin has denied both sets of accusations.
A number of other nations have expelled Russian diplomats and seen their own representatives told to depart Moscow in recent weeks. The Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and the Baltic nations are among those who have ordered departures over Prague’s claims that Russia’s security agencies were involved in a 2014 ammunition depot blast in the country.
The US Embassy in Moscow has already said its diminished staffing levels and a ban on hiring Russians would adversely affect its core functions. In April, it announced it would no longer issue non-immigrant visas to Russians except in “life-or-death emergencies”.
Moscow’s Foreign Ministry said at the time that the warning “looked like a manifestation of the archaism and inefficiency of American consular and diplomatic services”.