Russia, US Bicker Over Number of Diplomats

The desire of certain American lawmakers to drastically decrease the number of Russian diplomats in the United States is purely emotional, according to Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

Earlier, a bipartisan group of US senators demanded that Biden take urgent steps to expand the number of staff at the US Embassy in Moscow and remove 300 Russian diplomats if the Russian Federation refused the increase.

The Kremlin official, according to TASS, said that  “To begin with, in order to remove that many diplomats, you must first have that many to begin with. Second, they are very emotional expectations. According to all appearances, they don’t even know how many Russian diplomats are stationed there,” adding that Washington has been following a strategy aimed at “completely restricting ties“ for many years with Russia.

In reaction to Washington’s anti-Russia sanctions and yet another expulsion of Russian diplomats, Moscow barred US diplomatic posts from recruiting Russian and third-country nationals. The US Embassy in Russia has been working with a skeleton staff of 120 workers since August 1, and has subsequently claimed that this has crippled the embassy’s activities, despite repeated attempts by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to find a solution.

Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, both of whom are opponents of Biden, spearheaded the letter to him, with Rubio criticizing Biden for suspending Nord Stream 2-related penalties and Menendez criticizing the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Menendez has seldom voted with Republicans in the past, according to Pavel Sharikov of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of US and Canadian Studies. 

“It’s worth noting that this letter is a nonpartisan effort. Rubio’s signature is reasonable, but Menendez’s is unexpected. He is, by the way, a highly skilled lobbyist who is well-known for his ability to persuade the White House to make the necessary choices. Of course, it is unlikely that Biden would hurry to reduce the personnel of the Russian Embassy as a result of this letter. To say the least, the notion of removing 300 individuals seems insane. The question is if the letter’s writers are really relying on this, and whether it is part of a multi-step process “, added the expert.