- Russia is expelling 10 US diplomats in response to new US sanctions.
- The Biden admin. issued new sanctions over Russian election interference and the SolarWinds hack.
- Meanwhile, Russia has amassed 80,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, sparking fears of an invasion.
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The Kremlin is expelling 10 US diplomats in response to the Biden administration’s latest sanctions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday, per the Associated Press.
In concert with the new sanctions, unveiled Thursday, the US also expelled 10 Russian diplomats.
Additionally, Lavrov said Russia will add eight US officials to its sanctions list, while suggesting that the US ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, return to Washington for consultation. Last month, Russia recalled its ambassador to the US after President Joe Biden referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “killer.”
On top of the other retaliatory moves, Russia’s top diplomat also said the Kremlin will be taking steps to prohibit US non-governmental organizations from getting involved in Russian politics.
The US slapped new sanctions on over 30 Russian entities over the Kremlin’s interference in US elections as well as the country’s links to the SolarWinds hack. Moscow has vehemently denied any involvement in the hack and repeatedly rejected allegations of election interference.
The latest development in the escalating diplomatic tit-for-tat between Washington and Moscow came amid fears of a potential Russian incursion into Ukraine. The top US general in Europe on Thursday said there’s a low-to-medium risk Russia invades Ukraine in the next few weeks, with 80,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders.
Ukraine has been fighting a war against Kremlin-backed separatists in the Donbass region for over half a decade. Combined with Putin’s annexation of the Crimea, among other issues ranging from the Syria conflict to cyber-spying, the conflict has fueled tensions between Moscow and the West.
In a phone call earlier this week, Biden urged Putin to deescalate tensions with Ukraine and proposed holding a summit in a third country.
“The president’s view is Russia is on the outside of the global community … What the president is offering is a bridge back … Certainly it’s in their interests to take him up on the offer,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
Lavrov on Friday said that Russia was reviewing Biden’s summit proposal.
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