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Russia to expel 10 US diplomats in response to American sanctions

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Friday responded to a barrage of new US sanctions by saying it would expel 10 US diplomats and take other retaliatory moves in a tense showdown with Washington.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said Moscow will add eight US officials to its sanctions list and move to shut down those US nongovernment organizations that remain in Russia to end what he described as their meddling in Russia’s politics.

The top Russian diplomat said the Kremlin suggested that US Ambassador John Sullivan follow the example of his Russian counterpart and head home for consultations. Russia will also move to deny the US Embassy the possibility to hire personnel from Russia and third countries as support staff, limit visits by US diplomats serving short-term stints at the embassy, and tighten requirements for US diplomats’ travel in the country.

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On Thursday, the Biden administration announced sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2020 US presidential election and involvement in the SolarWind hack of federal agencies — activities Moscow has denied. The US ordered 10 Russian diplomats expelled, targeted dozens of companies and people, and imposed new curbs on Russia’s ability to borrow money.

While the US wields the power to cripple the Russian economy, Moscow lacks levers to respond in kind, although it potentially could hurt American interests in many other ways around the globe.

Lavrov noted that while Russia could take “painful measures” against American business interests in Russia, it wouldn’t immediately move to do that and “save them for future use.”

He warned that if Washington moves to further crank up the pressure, Russia might ask the US to reduce the number of its embassy and consular staff from about 450 to 300. He said Russia and the US each have about 450 diplomats, but for Russia the number includes some 150 UN personnel that he argued shouldn’t be part of the equation. The US Embassy with its national flag, seen behind a monument to the Workers of 1905 Revolution in Moscow, Russia, December 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Alexander........

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