Russia ordering some US Embassy staff to leave Moscow amid diplomatic spat

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Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that it has ordered some U.S. Embassy staff to leave Moscow amid a diplomatic spat between the two countries, Reuters reported.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said at a press briefing that U.S. Embassy staffers who have been in Moscow for more than three years will have until Jan. 31 to fly back home.

The move comes after Russia's ambassador to the U.S. said last week that 27 diplomats and their families were expelled from the U.S. and would leave on Jan. 30, according to Reuters.

Zakharova said that Russian diplomats who were forced to leave have also been banned from working as diplomats in the U.S. for three years, according to a Russian state news agency.

"Before July 1 next year, unless Washington waives the three-year rule and compromises, more (U.S.) workers (in Russia) will leave in numbers commensurate with the number of Russians announced by the State Department," she said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said it's not too late for the U.S. to stop them from implementing the new expulsions if it cancels its own plans to force Russian diplomats out, Reuters reported.

This comes as tensions between the two countries have risen due to Russia's buildup of troops at the Ukraine border.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is the last operational mission for the country since the Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg embassies have been closed down.

The Moscow embassy has reduced its staff from nearly 1,200 in 2017 to 120 currently, Reuters noted.

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