Top U.S. Diplomat Expelled By Russia

( Russia has expelled the second-ranking senior diplomat from the United States embassy in their nation’s capital, and the U.S. is now saying it’s an “escalatory” move while tensions are at an all-time high.

Bart Gorman, the second highest-ranking official at the embassy behind only the ambassador, was expelled early in the year and was told to leave within two weeks. A senior official with the U.S. State Department said that Gorman, the deputy chief of mission in Moscow, left their country last week and is now back within the United States.

A spokesperson for the State Department confirmed Gorman was expelled by Russia in an action that was “unprovoked.” The spokesperson said:

“We consider this an escalatory step and are considering our response.”

This is being seen as an escalation of tensions by Russia as they are on the border of Ukraine, apparently ready to invade. On Thursday, President Joe Biden said America has “every indication” that Russia has intentions to invade its neighbor “in the next several days.”

In the last several years, Russia has reduced the size of American diplomats in their country. Gorman was there in Russia for less than three years. He still had a valid visa, and his stay there had not yet ended, according to the spokesperson.

The person added that Gorman is a key member of the senior leadership team at the U.S. embassy in Russia. They added:

“We call on Russia to end its baseless expulsions of U.S. diplomats and staff and to work productively to rebuild our missions.”

On Thursday, the White House doubled down on those comments, calling this move by Russia an “escalatory step” that was “unprovoked.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, the principal deputy press secretary for the White House, told reporters while on Air Force One:

“Now more than ever, it is critical that our countries have the necessary diplomatic personnel in place to facilitate communication between our governments.”

This all comes at a time when the defense ministry in Ukraine has reported that there have been “52 violations of ceasefire recorded and 42 of those used ammunition forbidden by the Minsk Agreement.”

Separatist regions that are backed by Russia have accused their Ukrainian counterparts of launching shells into residential areas that they control. The Minsk agreements state that both sides are supposed to withdrawal all heavy weapons from the front lines between the two countries.

The United States has continually threatened Russia with economic and political sanctions if they do end up invading Ukraine. Some of the proposed economic sanctions could cripple the Russian economy.

In response, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, said the sanctions threat is “a gross violation of international law.” He said that Russia must now “strengthen ourselves from within” to overcome the potential sanctions that might come.

During a news conference held this week, Putin said:

“That’s sanctions pressure. Firstly, it is absolutely not legal, it is a gross violation of international law, which those who are now talking about it care for only when it is beneficial to them. And when it does not suit them, then they forget about all the norms of international law.

“The only way to overcome such a state of affairs is to strengthen ourselves from within.”