Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Russia expels 10 U.S. diplomats, bars officials in response to sanctions

- BY VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV

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 other 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 SolarWinds 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.”

Russia’s economic potential and its global reach are limited compared with the Soviet Union that competed with the U.S. for internatio­nal influence during the Cold War. Still, Russia’s nuclear arsenal and its leverage in many parts of the world make it a power that Washington needs to reckon with.

Aware of that, President Joe Biden called for de-escalating tensions and held the door open for cooperatio­n with Russia in certain areas.

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