Russia expels 60 US diplomats and closes Consulate General

Russia expels 60 US diplomats and closes Consulate General

Russia will expel 60 US diplomats and close the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Russia has declared 58 employees of the US Embassy in Moscow and two staff members of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg personae non gratae, they will have to leave the country by April 5, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"On March 29, US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov handed over to him a note of protest over the outrageous and unsubstantiated demands by the US authorities that 60 Russian diplomats leave the US and the Russian Consulate General in Seattle be closed and also in connection with the US authorities’ intention to seize its premises. That was preceded by the seizure of five other facilities in the US owned by Russia in 2016-2017," the ministry said.

"Based on the reciprocity principle, as a retaliatory measure, 58 employees of the US Embassy in Moscow and two staff members of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg have been declared personae non gratae for the activities incompatible with their diplomatic status. They will have to leave the Russian Federation by April 5, 2018," the ministry said.

Besides, Moscow has revoked its consent to the opening and operations of the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg. "The American representatives are expected to move out of the administrative building, which was granted to them for their establishment, no later than March 31," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.

Moscow also suggested convening a meeting of the OPCW executive council on April 2, where it will bring up all questions, Lavrov said adding that if "our Western partners" dodge this, then it will be further "evidence" that everything that’s happened is a "provocation."

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