“We have obtained a list of 10 diplomats asking them to leave the United States. We will respond in kind to this measure and we ask ten American diplomats in Russia to leave our country,” he added.
On Thursday, the United States took a series of steps to punish Russia for alleged interference in the US presidential election last year, cyberattacks on US government agencies, aggression against Ukraine, and other harmful acts. In addition to the expulsion of ten Russian diplomats, Washington announced sanctions against nearly forty individuals and companies.
Moscow has also prevented eight current and former US officials from entering its territory. These include Christopher Ray, FBI chief, Avril Haines, Director of Secret Services (DNI), Alejandro Mayurcas, Secretary of Homeland Security, Merrick Garland, Attorney General, John Bolton, former former security advisor. President Donald Trump’s administration and former Director of Central Intelligence (CIA) James Woolsey.
The Russian foreign minister also indicated other retaliatory measures, such as tightening restrictions on the movement of American diplomats on Russian soil.
Lavrov added, “Other measures: We will limit and end the activities of American institutions and non-governmental organizations in our territories, which openly interfere in our internal political life.” The head of diplomacy also assured that Moscow had “an opportunity to take painful measures for American companies,” but that it would keep them in reserve for the time being.
According to Lavrov, Russia “advised” John Sullivan, the US ambassador to Moscow, to return to Washington for “deep and serious consultations.” Sullivan’s Russian counterpart, Anatoly Antonov, was also summoned to Moscow for consultations on March 17, according to Agence France-Presse.
Five Polish diplomats for three Russians
In addition to the United States, the retaliation will also affect Poland, which on Thursday expressed solidarity with the United States and expelled three Russian diplomats that, according to Warsaw, had harmed its interests.
“We noticed how quickly Warsaw joined the American administration and we asked three Russian diplomats to leave. In response, we will expel five Polish diplomats,” he added. The Defense Agency has reported that three Polish diplomats have been deported
Despite the strained relations, US President Joe Biden has proposed holding a neutral zone summit to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, this week. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday that it viewed the proposal positively and was currently studying it.
“We heard President Biden’s statement about his interest in ‘stable, constructive and predictable’ relations with Russia, especially holding the Russian-American summit,” the Russian diplomat said.