The United States expelled Russia’s second-ranking diplomat from Washington Thursday in response to the Kremlin’s ouster of the American embassy’s No. 2 official from Moscow earlier this month.
Just minutes after President Biden announced additional economic sanctions against Russia following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior State Department official revealed the expulsion to the Associated Press.
The Russian Embassy was reportedly informed of Minister Counselor Sergey Trepelkov’s departure on Wednesday, one day before the attack on Ukraine began.
Trepelkov’s expulsion comes just one week after Russia ordered Bart Gorman, the US deputy chief of mission in Moscow, out of the country. The blog Diplopundit reported that Gorman and his family had left Russia the previous week, on Feb. 10.
At the time, State Department spokesperson Ned Price described the Russian action as “unprovoked” and “an escalatory step” before adding that the US was “considering our response.”
The State Department official familiar with Trepelkov’s departure told AP the move was taken “as a direct response to the unprovoked Russian expulsion of our deputy chief of mission.”
Still, the official added US is looking to keep diplomatic relations with Russia to “facilitate communication between our governments.”
The move comes as Russian forces continue to move into Ukraine, successfully taking control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant as well as the Antonov Airport, also known as the Hostomel Airport — which sits roughly 10 miles northwest of Kyiv.