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Russia Ukraine conflict

Russia expels no. 2 US diplomat from embassy in Moscow: State Department

The US Embassy in Moscow is being staffed at levels “well below” the Russian Embassy in DC, a State Department official told Al Arabiya English.

Published: Updated:

Russia has expelled the US Deputy Chief of Mission Bart Gorman from Moscow, the State Department confirmed on Thursday.

The move was announced shortly after the US said it had received a response to Washington’s response about security proposals and guarantees demanded by Russia.

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“We can confirm that Russia expelled US Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) to Russia Bart Gorman. DCM Gorman was the second-most senior official at US Embassy Moscow after the Ambassador and a key member of the Embassy's senior leadership team,” a State Department official told Al Arabiya English.

The spokesperson added that the US was studying its response. “Russia’s action against our DCM was unprovoked and we consider this an escalatory step and are considering our response.”

Gorman was responsible for managing key aspects of the US-Russia relationship, according to the Embassy website. He also served as the Senior Regional Security Officer (RSO) in Moscow from 2014 to 2016.

Russia had made the move in response to a US decision that forced Russian diplomats in the US to leave the country after three years.

This was also in response to Russian limits on US diplomats in Moscow and other parts of Russia.

“In line with this policy, we informed Russia that Russian diplomats who have stayed in the United States longer than three years are expected to depart, and that we will enforce this policy,” the State Department official said, adding that Russia said it would retaliate.

One of the retaliatory moves was to expel Gorman, who had a valid visa and was not in Russia for more than three years.

Russian diplomats were given a minimum of five months’ notice ahead of their expected departure date from the US, the State Department official said.

“In response, Russia is requiring US diplomats to leave well before the end of three years, is giving them two weeks to leave the country, and is calling it the same. It is not the same,” the official said.

As a result, the US Embassy in Moscow is being staffed at levels “well below” the Russian Embassy in DC, according to the official.

Top US diplomat at UN

Russia has amassed thousands of troops near the border with Ukraine, with the US warning of a potential invasion “at any time.” Moscow has denied the allegations.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered remarks on “Russia’s threat to peace and security” during a stop at a UN Security Council Meeting in New York. He made the stop before heading to Germany for the Munich Security Conference.

Washington’s envoy to the UN said that she asked Blinken to speak. “Overnight, after a series of conversations with the White House, the National Security Council, and the State Department, I asked Secretary Blinken to come speak directly to the UN Security Council on his way to Munich about the serious situation in Ukraine,” she tweeted.

US President Joe Biden deployed thousands of US troops to Eastern Europe earlier this month as tensions ramped up. The US has also closed its embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and relocated operations to Lviv due to the “dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces,” the State Department said on Monday.

Moscow said that it had withdrawn some troops and forces from the border with Ukraine, but the US has voiced its disbelief. “We have not yet verified that... Our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position,” President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.

Read more: US puts forth military scenarios of how Russia could invade Ukraine ‘in coming days’