Russia Removes Certain U.S. Diplomats From Moscow

( In retaliation for Washington expelling Russian diplomats, the Kremlin moved to expel several US diplomats from the US Embassy in Moscow.

In early March, Washington announced that twelve Russian diplomats working at the United Nations were being expelled from the US over allegations of spying.

Russian media reported that on Wednesday, the Kremlin sent the US Embassy a list of personnel who must leave the country in retaliation for those expulsions.

A US State Department spokesman confirmed that the Kremlin provided a list of diplomats the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared “persona non grata.” The spokesman described the action as “unhelpful” and an “unproductive step in our bilateral relationship.” The State Department demanded Moscow end “its unjustified expulsions” of embassy personnel, saying at this critical time, it was important to have the necessary personnel “to facilitate communication between our governments.”

The exact number of US diplomats expelled is not known.

According to the Russian Interfax news agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Washington was told “very firmly” that any hostile actions from the United States “would provoke a decisive and comparable response” from Moscow.

And that was on Wednesday. Who knows how Moscow will respond to President Biden declaring in a speech on Saturday that Vladimir Putin must not remain in power.

On the same day, Poland announced it was expelling 45 Russian diplomats.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski announced the move on Twitter, accusing the 45 Russians of being spies “pretending to be diplomats.” Kaminski said by expelling these Russians, Poland was “dismantling the Russian special services network in our country.”

Also on Wednesday, Belarus announced it was expelling Ukrainian diplomats.

And to cap off the day, the US formally accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday that the State Department had made a formal assessment that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. Blinken said the assessment was based on a “careful review” of both public and intelligence sources.

While the announcement came with no additional US sanctions, the State Department’s move does back up the global push for accountability over Russia’s strikes on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.