On Friday, the Russian government announced the expulsion of 10 American diplomats and banned several U.S. officials from entering the country in response to recent sanctions imposed by the Biden administration.
“The latest attack by the Biden administration against our country cannot go unanswered,” read a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry. “It seems Washington is unwilling to accept that there is no room for unilateral dictates in the new geopolitical reality. Meanwhile, the bankrupt scenarios for deterring Moscow that the US myopically continues to pursue only promise to further degrade Russian-US relations.”
According to CBS News, “Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said at a press conference that Moscow would also place restrictions on the activities of U.S. non-governmental organizations on its territory, calling Washington’s measures ‘hostile’ and ‘unprovoked.’”
The moves come after President Joe Biden had signed a new sanctions executive order against Russia on Thursday, accusing Moscow of attempting to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election and hacking federal agencies.
A tweet posted by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday, however, indicated the list of Americans denied entry to the country was “in response” to the sanctions announced on March 2. Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken condemned “the Russian Federation’s use of a chemical weapon in the attempted assassination of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny in August 2020 and his subsequent imprisonment in January 2021.”
❗️ In response to the sanctions against Russian officials imposed by the 🇺🇸 US administration, the following US high-ranking officials and figures complicit in pursuing the anti-Russia policy, are denied ❌ entry to the Russian Federation👇
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) April 16, 2021
Russia banned eight “incumbent and former US high-ranking officials and figures” that the government said has been “complicit in pursuing the anti-Russia policy,” including Attorney General Merrick Garland, Director of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council Susan Rice, and Director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons Michael Carvajal.
“In addition, entry is denied to John Robert Bolton, former National Security Advisor to the United States President, former US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Robert James Woolsey Jr., former director of the US Central Intelligence Agency,” a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The Washington Post described the actions as “expected tit-for-tat measures” that “deepen the strains between the two countries,” reporting:
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement Friday evening said it would like to avoid further escalation of tensions with the United States and sought a calm and professional dialogue, but that its wave of sanctions could not go unpunished.
Russia announced its retaliatory steps after Putin chaired a meeting of Russia’s Security Council following the U.S. sanctions and other measures Thursday.
Washington said it would expel 10 Russian diplomats and place sanctions on 32 Russia-related individuals and companies accused of interfering in the 2020 presidential election, spreading disinformation and other harmful actions. U.S. officials claim most of the diplomats on the expulsion list are intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover.
Russian officials accused Biden of sending inconsistent messages, saying America’s sanctions and expulsions were announced two days after he spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone and had called for a summit to “normalize” relations. Biden also said it was “time to de-escalate” tensions.
According to The Post, “Russian state television anchors portrayed Biden as senile, a favorite state propaganda theme.”