Russia expelled one of America’s top diplomats in the country from Moscow, the State Department confirmed Thursday.
Deputy Ambassador Bart Gorman was expelled from Russia, diplomatic mission spokesman Jason Rebholtz told Russian state media Thursday. A State Department spokesman said the U.S. is currently “considering our response,” according to Voice Of America.
“We can confirm that Russia expelled U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) to Russia Bart Gorman. DCM Gorman was the second-most senior official at U.S. Embassy Moscow after the Ambassador and a key member of the Embassy’s senior leadership team,” says a @StateDept spokesperson.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) February 17, 2022
The State Department spokesman also described the expulsion as “unprovoked” and an “escalatory” step. It was not immediately clear what the Russian justification for the expulsion was; the website of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs went down shortly after the announcement was made.
In December, Russia said that American diplomats who have been in the country for more than three years should return home, according to Reuters. But Gorman had a valid visa and had not exceeded the three-year mark. (RELATED: Biden Admin Responds To Russia Not Invading Ukraine On Feb. 16)
The Kremlin finally responded to the Biden administration’s security proposals Thursday. The State Department has not yet outlined what was in Russia’s response, but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia will publicly reveal its response within a few hours. Moscow has repeatedly demanded that the U.S. and NATO provide a guarantee that Ukraine will not be allowed to join the western alliance.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to speak Thursday before the United Nations Security Council, and pro-Russian separatists are accused of shelling Ukrainian territory earlier Thursday.