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Russia to expel some U.S. diplomats in Moscow in 'retaliatory' move

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Russia to expel some U.S. diplomats in Moscow in 'retaliatory' move
The U.S. and Russian flags hang on the facade of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. File Photo by Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA-EFE

Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The Russian government announced on Wednesday that dozens of U.S. diplomats in Moscow will have to leave the country within two months -- a retaliatory measure, it said, to the American government doing the exact same thing.

Russia's foreign ministry announced the expulsions and said the move will affect U.S. diplomats who have been in the country for more than three years. They must leave by Jan. 31, the ministry said.

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The move comes after U.S. officials said a total of more than 50 Russian diplomats and their families must leave between now and the end of June. The State Department has declined to extend the diplomats' visas.

"We view the U.S. demand as an act of expulsion and intend to resort to retaliatory measures," foreign ministry spokeswomen Maria Zakharova said, according to the state-run TASS news agency.

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The Russian Embassy is seen in Washington, D.C. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI

Wednesday's expulsion announcement is the latest step back in U.S.-Russia relations, which perhaps are frostier than they have ever been since the end of the Cold War.

Several months ago, Russia also expelled 10 American diplomats in response to new sanctions from President Joe Biden over attempts to interfere the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Moscow also closed diplomatic missions in NATO after the alliance expelled several other Russian diplomats who were accused of working as spies.

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There are reports that Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will participate in another bilateral meeting, perhaps virtually, early next year. The two met in Switzerland in June and have spoken on sporadically by phone since Biden took office early this year.

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