The State Department said Thursday that Russia had expelled Bart Gorman, who served as the deputy US ambassador in Moscow, amid heightened tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine.
Moscow said the move was a response to the US’s “unreasonable expulsion” of a senior Russian diplomat by Washington. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Washington had unleashed a “visa war” on Russian diplomats based in the US.
“It is true that the US diplomat was told to leave Russia, but that was done strictly in retaliation for the groundless expulsion of a minister-counselor of our embassy in Washington, contrary to his senior diplomatic rank,” Zakharova said.
The US said it is weighing a response to Gorman’s expulsion and called the move “escalatory.”
The US recently ordered 27 Russian diplomats to leave the country by the end of January because their visas were expiring. But Moscow viewed the move as an intentional expulsion since the Russian officials had issues getting their visas renewed.
Gorman’s expulsion is part of a diplomatic spat between the US and Russia that has been going on for a few years. The US has been putting restrictions on Russia’s diplomatic missions inside the US. Moscow has responded in kind, leaving fewer diplomats in each country as tensions between the two powers are soaring.