Russian authorities have expelled the United States Deputy Ambassador Bart Gorman from the country. Gorman has a valid visa and has been in Russia for less than three years; the Pentagon said he has not even completed his tour of the country, the CNN reports.
The US State Department said Moscow gave Gorman two weeks to leave Russia and that he was back in the United States two weeks ago. A US embassy spokesman in Russia, Jason Rebholz, called the development retaliation for the Biden administration’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine crisis and noted that the US government will respond shortly to the escalation.
A State Department spokesperson said Moscow’s expulsion of Gorman was “unprovoked” and an “escalators” action given Russia’s ominous threats against Ukraine. The spokesperson said Gorman was a top leadership official of the US government in Russia and is the second topmost US official in the country.
“We consider this an escalator step and are considering our response,” the spokesperson said. “We call on Russia to end its baseless expulsions of US diplomats and staff and to work productively to rebuild our missions.”
The US has downsized the size of its diplomatic personnel in Russia in recent years, given the country’s aggression towards Ukraine and key US interests. White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the departure of Gorman will impact critical communication between Russia and the United States, and that Moscow must seek ways to end the widening rift before it becomes too late.
The Pentagon warned that the Kremlin’s campaign that Russia is pulling back troops from the Ukrainian border is a ruse and that Moscow continues to actually send troops and stock blood supplies in case of human casualties. Washington however made it clear that there will be dire consequences if Russia attacks Ukraine, and that the consequences will go beyond economic sanctions.