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Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated that the U.S. can still change its decision to expel 54 Russian diplomats.
Russia announced the expulsion of U.S. diplomats by January 31, 2022, in response to a similar move by Washington against it, when both countries are planning a high-level meeting, with no word on whether they will discuss the embassy dispute.
It is not the first time both powers have had a problematic situation motivated by the reciprocal expulsion of diplomatic personnel, for alleged suspicions of espionage. This conflict has spread over the last months, coupled with the recent dispute over Ukraine.
The spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, pointed out that "by January 31, 2022, the U.S. Embassy employees who have been in Moscow for more than three years will have to leave Russia."
She specified that Moscow considers Washington's demand that 54 Russian diplomats leave the embassy as expulsion, to which Russia "reacts respectively."
The Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, confirmed the forthcoming departure of 27 Russian diplomats posted in the North American country together with their family members.
"Our diplomats have been expelled. On January 30, 27 people with their families will leave us, and on June 30, a similar number will leave here," Antonov explained in an interview with the YouTube channel Soloviov Live.
In this regard, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the United States can still change its decision to expel 54 Russian diplomats; otherwise, his country will act similarly and under the same terms.
Asked whether Washington could prevent the implementation of such a decision, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said that Washington had set two dates - the end of January and the same time in June - to implement such a measure.
Ryabkov explained that if this provision is applied, the same number of U.S. personnel will leave Russia, under the same principle that they will be those who exceed the three-year stay period in the Eurasian nation.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Thursday with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Stockholm.
The meeting comes when tensions between the Western military alliance and Russia have increased due to Moscow's troop buildup near the Ukrainian border.
Before he meets with Lavrov, Blinken will have a separate meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the summit's sidelines.
Russia claimed that there was a dangerous deployment of Ukrainian troops near the area of the separatist conflict in the eastern part of the country.
President Vladimir Putin stated that "threats are increasing on our western border," with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) placing its military infrastructure closer to Russia.
Putin offered to engage the West in substantive talks on the issue, adding that Moscow would need not just verbal guarantees, but "legal guarantees."
Eastern Ukraine has been mired in a conflict between the Kiev government and pro-Russian separatists since 2014, which erupted shortly after Moscow annexed Crimea. Since then, the dispute has caused more than 13,000 deaths.