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Russia expels 10 U.S. diplomats in response to Biden sanctions

Russia expels 10 U.S. diplomats in response to Biden sanctions
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a press conference with Afghanistan's foreign minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar on February 26. Lavrov said Friday Russia was expelling 10 U.S. diplomats in response to President Joe Biden's sanctions against Russia. Photo by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/EPA-EFE

April 16 (UPI) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday the Kremlin will expel 10 U.S. diplomats in response to President Joe Biden imposing sanctions.

Biden said Thursday the sanctions would affect nearly three dozen Russian individuals and entities for attempts to interfere in and influence the 2020 presidential election.

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He said he told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday the United States would be "responding in a measured and proportionate way" after determining that Russia interfered in the 2020 election and was responsible for a widespread cyberattack on U.S. agencies and corporations last year.

"Ten diplomats were on a list the U.S. side handed over to us asking to ensure their leaving the United States," Lavrov said, according to the Russian news agency TASS. "We will give a tit-for-tat response to that. We will also ask 10 U.S. diplomats to leave our country."

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Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin told U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan of Russia's response.

"Nobody has canceled the principle of reciprocity in such matters, it is a fundamental principle," Peskov said to local reporters, according to the Washington Post. "Yet again, everything will depend on the decision to be made by the head of state."

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Despite the sanctions, Peskov said Putin and Biden had agreed on the importance of de-escalating tensions between the two powers.

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"President Putin talked about the feasibility of building, normalizing and de-escalating our relations," Peskov said. "He talks about it consistently. He is convinced of it. He has stated repeatedly that we are ready to develop our dialogue to the extent that our counterparts are ready to do it."

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