Moscow orders 10 US diplomats to leave Russia by May 21

By: AFP      Published: 10:56 PM, 21 Apr, 2021
Moscow orders 10 US diplomats to leave Russia by May 21

Moscow on Wednesday ordered 10 US diplomats to leave Russia by May 21, setting the date for its promise to respond in kind to the expulsion of its diplomats from Washington.

Last week the United States announced sanctions against Moscow and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what Washington said was the Kremlin's US election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.

Russia said in the immediate aftermath it would respond in kind, and formalised the decision Wednesday announcing that 10 US diplomats in Russia were declared "persona non grata".

"These persons were ordered to leave the territory of our country by the end of the day on May 21," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"This measure represents a 'mirror' response to the hostile actions of the American side against a number of employees of the Russian embassy in Washington and the Russian Consulate General in New York," the statement said.

Russia's ties with the West have recently plunged to new lows, with Moscow and Western capitals at loggerheads over jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, a Russian troop build-up along Ukraine's borders and a series of espionage scandals.

The foreign ministry in Moscow also warned of "future steps" in response to the US sanctions imposed last week, and which it described as "illegal".

Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a state of the nation address Wednesday warned Western rivals against crossing the Kremlin's "red line" and lashed out at foreign countries for blaming their woes on Moscow.