Friday, December 30, 2016

Russia moves to expel 35 US diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to a similar move by Washington

Russia is preparing to expel 35 United States diplomats in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the US.

Its foreign ministry has requested President Vladimir Putin expel the diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to a similar move by Washington over hacking allegations, Moscow's top diplomat said.

"Russia's foreign ministry... has requested that the Russian president approve declaring as personae non gratae 31 employees of the US embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the US consulate in Saint Petersburg," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in televised comments.

The ministry is also seeking to ban diplomats from using a holiday home located in western Moscow and a warehouse in the north of the city, Mr Lavrov said, after President Barack Obama said the US would close two Russian compounds.

Mr Lavrov said the two Russian country houses in New York and Maryland were used for children's holidays and ridiculed the notion they were "nests of spies."

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