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Russia to expel 10 U.S. diplomats

Move comes in response to Biden’s announced sanctions by VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | April 17, 2021 at 4:07 a.m.
In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gestures during his and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry joint news conference following their talks in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, April 12, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

MOSCOW -- Russia on Friday responded to the barrage of new U.S. sanctions by saying it would expel 10 U.S. diplomats and take other retaliatory moves in a 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 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. nongovernmental 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 third countries as support staff, limit visits by U.S. diplomats serving short-term stints at the embassy and tighten requirements for their 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 presidential election and involvement in the SolarWind hack of federal agencies -- activities that 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, though 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 but would "save them for future use."

He warned that if Washington further raises the pressure, Russia might ask the U.S. to reduce the number of its embassy and consular staff from about 450 to 300. He said both countries host about 450 diplomats, but that includes some 150 Russians at the U.N. in New York that he argued shouldn't be included.

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 deescalating tensions and held the door open for cooperation with Russia in certain areas. Biden said he told Putin in their phone call Tuesday that he chose not to impose tougher sanctions for now and proposed to meet in a third country in the summer.

Lavrov said Russia had a "positive attitude" to the summit offer and was analyzing it, but a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry shortly after noted that it "was being studied in the context of the evolving situation."

The ministry charged that Russia would like to avoid further escalation and engage in a "calm and professional dialogue," but has other means to retaliate if Washington tries to crank up the pressure.

While the new U.S. sanctions further limited Russia's ability to borrow money by banning U.S. financial institutions from buying Russian government bonds directly from state institutions, they didn't target the secondary market.

"It's very important that there're no sanctions on secondary debt because that means that non-U.S. persons can buy the debt and sell it to the U.S. persons," said Tom Adshead, director of research at Macro-Advisory Ltd, an analytics and advisory company.

Information for this article was contributed by Eric Tucker and Kostya Manenkov of The Associated Press.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during his and Serbia's Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic joint news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 16, 2021. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will order 10 U.S. diplomats to leave Russia in a retaliatory response to the U.S. sanctions. Lavrov also said Moscow will add eight U.S. officials to its sanctions list and move to restrict and stop the activities of U.S. nongovernmental organizations from interfering in Russia's politics. (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during his and Serbia's Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic joint news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 16, 2021. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will order 10 U.S. diplomats to leave Russia in a retaliatory response to the U.S. sanctions. Lavrov also said Moscow will add eight U.S. officials to its sanctions list and move to restrict and stop the activities of U.S. nongovernmental organizations from interfering in Russia's politics. (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)
President Joe Biden leaves after speaking about Russia in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Joe Biden leaves after speaking about Russia in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Joe Biden speaks about Russia in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Joe Biden speaks about Russia in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
FILE - In this Thursday, March 4, 2021 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting with participants of the We Are Together nationwide volunteer campaign in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Hit by a barrage of new sanctions from the Biden administration, the Kremlin is carefully weighing its response in a tense showdown with the United States.(Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, March 4, 2021 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting with participants of the We Are Together nationwide volunteer campaign in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Hit by a barrage of new sanctions from the Biden administration, the Kremlin is carefully weighing its response in a tense showdown with the United States.(Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
The entrance gate of the Embassy of the Russian Federation is seen in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021. The Biden administration has rolled out a sweeping set of sanctions on Russia over its election interference, hacking efforts and other malign activity. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The entrance gate of the Embassy of the Russian Federation is seen in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021. The Biden administration has rolled out a sweeping set of sanctions on Russia over its election interference, hacking efforts and other malign activity. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
FILE - In this file photo taken on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, The U.S. Embassy with its national flag, seen behind a monument to the Workers of 1905 Revolution in Moscow, Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will order 10 U.S. diplomats to leave Russia in a retaliatory response to the U.S. sanctions. Lavrov also said Moscow will add eight U.S. officials to its sanctions list and move to restrict and stop the activities of U.S. nongovernmental organizations from interfering in Russia's politics. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
FILE - In this file photo taken on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, The U.S. Embassy with its national flag, seen behind a monument to the Workers of 1905 Revolution in Moscow, Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will order 10 U.S. diplomats to leave Russia in a retaliatory response to the U.S. sanctions. Lavrov also said Moscow will add eight U.S. officials to its sanctions list and move to restrict and stop the activities of U.S. nongovernmental organizations from interfering in Russia's politics. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
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