Russia Expels U.S.’s Second Highest-Ranking Diplomat From Moscow
Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images

The Russian government has expelled America’s second-ranking diplomat, the State Department confirmed on Thursday, as tensions escalate regarding military buildup along Ukraine’s border.

Bart Gorman, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Russia, was the official named in the report for removal from Moscow, according to the State Department.

The spokesperson described Gorman as “the second-most senior official at U.S. Embassy Moscow after the Ambassador and a key member of the Embassy’s senior leadership team,” according to Fox News.

“The State Department described the measure as ‘unprovoked and we consider this an escalatory step and are considering our response.'”

“We note that Russia’s actions have led to the U.S. mission to Russia being staffed at levels well below the Russian mission to the United States,” the spokesperson also said.

The Associated Press added, “Spokesman Jason Rebholz told the state RIA Novosti news agency that Gorman was second in command in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and had an open visa. He spent less than three years in Moscow, the report said.”

A New York Times update noted that Ambassador John Sullivan remains in Moscow as of Thursday.

“The chief American envoy to Russia, Ambassador John J. Sullivan, remains in Moscow and on Thursday received the government’s written response to the Biden administration’s proposals to ease tensions and improve security in Europe,” The Times reported.

The report comes as news of shelling along Ukraine’s border spreads across news media.

“Kindergarten in Stanytsya Luhanska right now. Direct artillery hit. Children were there. Waiting confirmation about two adults with contusion, 4 kids injured,” one report noted alongside pictures of the bombed school location.

The shelling occurred in the town of Stanytsya Luhanska in northeastern Ukraine. The community sits along the border area separating the Ukrainian military from Russia-backed rebels. It is also near the Russian border, which has been blanketed with thousands of troops.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, currently involved in a NATO meeting in Brussels, told reporters that the reports of shelling are “certainly troubling” and details are still unfolding.

“But you know we’ve said for some time that the Russians might do something like this in order to justify a military conflict, so we’ll be watching this very closely,” Austin added, according to The Washington Post.

Fox News correspondent Trey Yingst reported from within Ukraine Thursday with updates of the shelling reports.

“Twenty-nine ceasefire violations were reported,” Yingst noted. “A Joint Forces officer tells Fox News that his troops are now responding and that the exchange of fire continues at this hour.”

A separate update from The New York Times noted, “In the first week of January, the United States estimated that they numbered around 100,000. That figure grew to 130,000, and then, on Tuesday, President Biden put the number at 150,000 — with brigades normally based as far away as Siberia joining the force.”

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