Russia expels second-highest US official from embassy in Moscow – US State Department

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WASHINGTON, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Russia has expelled the U.S. deputy chief of mission to Russia, Bart Gorman, a State Department spokesman said on Thursday, warning against a U.S. response amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia’s action against our DCM was unprovoked and we consider this an escalation and are considering our response,” the spokesperson said.

The justification Moscow gave for the expulsion was not immediately clear, but it comes during a months-long stalemate over a Russian gathering of more than 150,000 troops near its border with Ukraine.

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US officials have warned that the risk of a Russian invasion remains high and that Russia may try to fabricate a pretext for a conflict, although Moscow has said it is pulling some of its troops away from the border. Read more

Along with border tensions, the United States and Russia have squabbled over their respective diplomatic presences in their respective capitals, and Moscow said in December that US embassy staff who had been there for more than three years should return home. him.

The spokesperson said Gorman, the second-highest-ranking US official at the US embassy in Moscow, had a valid visa and had been in Russia for less than three years.

“We call on Russia to end its baseless expulsions of American diplomats and personnel and to work productively to rebuild our missions,” the State Department spokesperson said. “Now more than ever, it is essential that our countries have the necessary diplomatic personnel to facilitate communication between our governments.”

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Reporting by Simon Lewis; Written by Susan Heavey; Editing by Alison Williams

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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