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U.S. vows response after Russia expels diplomats

by Abbey Fenbert September 15, 2023 2:40 AM 2 min read
U.S. Ambassador Lynne Tracy's car outside the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 2023. (Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)
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The U.S. "will respond appropriately" to Moscow's decision to expel two U.S. diplomats from Russia, State Department Spokesperson Matt Miller said in a press briefing on Sept. 14.

"This unprovoked expulsion of our diplomatic personnel is wholly without merit," Miller said.

On Sept. 14, the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry told U.S. Ambassador Lynne Tracy that two American diplomats, Jeffrey Sillin and David Bernstein, had been declared "persona non grata" and would have to leave the Russian Federation within seven days.

The Russian government accused the diplomats of conducting "illegal activities" and collaborating with Robert Shonov, a Russian citizen who was arrested on espionage charges in May 2023.

"Yet again, Russia has chosen confrontation and escalation over constructive diplomatic engagement," Miller said. "It continues to harass employees of our embassy, just as it continues to intimidate its own citizens."

Miller said the U.S. diplomats were "just doing their jobs" and that neither was guilty of wrongdoing or criminal activity. He also said that Shonov, a former U.S. Consulate employee,  had acted "in compliance with Russian law."

Miller declined to give details about the U.S. government's next steps, but said they would respond "appropriately" and "expeditiously" to the expulsion.

He also said that Sillin and Bernstein had not yet left Russia.‌

Ukraine war latest: Air defense system destroyed, two ships damaged in occupied Crimea
Key developments on Sept. 14: * Media: SBU, Navy destroy Russian air defense system in Yevpatoriia strike * Two ships damaged in Crimea, Ukraine’s military reports * 3rd Assault Brigade denies Andriivka near Bakhmut was liberated * ICC opens office in Kyiv to investigate Russian war crimes * B…
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