Russia to expel 10 US diplomats in response to Biden actions

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during his and Serbia's Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic joint news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 16, 2021. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will order 10 U.S. diplomats to leave Russia in a retaliatory response to the U.S. sanctions. Lavrov also said Moscow will add eight U.S. officials to its sanctions list and move to restrict and stop the activities of U.S. nongovernmental organizations from interfering in Russia's politics. (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW – Russia on Friday responded to a barrage of new U.S. sanctions by saying it would expel 10 U.S. diplomats and take other retaliatory moves in a tense showdown with Washington.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also published a list of eight current or former U.S. officials barred from entering the country, including U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said Moscow will move to shut down those U.S. 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 U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan follow the example of his Russian counterpart and head home for consultations. Russia will also deny the U.S. Embassy the possibility of hiring personnel from Russia and third countries as support staff, limit visits by U.S. diplomats serving short-term stints at the embassy, and tighten requirements for U.S. diplomats' travel in the country.

The others banned from entering Russia are Susan Rice, a former U.N. ambassador and now head of the Domestic Policy Council; John Bolton, who was a national security adviser under former President Donald Trump; James Woolsey, a former CIA director; and Michael Carvajal, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

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

While the U.S. wields the power to cripple Russia's economy, Moscow lacks levers to respond in kind, although it could hurt American interests in other ways globally.

Lavrov called Washington’s move “absolutely unfriendly and unprovoked," and he said 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.”