Washington– Democratic and Republican senators called on President Joe Biden to expel Russian diplomats if Moscow does not issue more visas to US diplomats.
Seventeen bipartisan senators, including leaders of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees, wrote in a letter to Biden on Monday that there are over 400 Russian diplomats in the US but only about 100 US diplomats in Russia, Xinhua news agency reported.
“This disproportionality in diplomatic representation is unacceptable,” said the letter.
“Accordingly, Russia must issue enough visas to approach parity between the number of American diplomats serving in Russia and the number of Russian diplomats serving in the United States.”
“If such action is not taken, we urge you to begin expelling Russian diplomats, to bring the US diplomatic presence to parity,” it added.
According to the letter, Russia counted local staff at US Embassy in Moscow as “American diplomats,” a characterization that the United States accepted across multiple administrations.
The US State Department said in late July that it had laid off 182 local employees and dozens of contractors at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Russia as requested by Moscow.
The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier this year announced a complete ban on US diplomatic missions from hiring citizens of Russia or third countries to administrative and technical posts in response to US sanctions and expulsion of Russian diplomats. (IANS)