Moscow says 27 Russian more diplomats due to leave U.S. in January


FILE PHOTO: A Russian flag flies outside the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in New York in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 2, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's ambassador to the United States said that 27 more Russian diplomats and their families were expelled from the United States and would leave on Jan. 30.

"Our diplomats are being expelled...A large group of my comrades, 27 people with families, will leave us on January 30... We are facing a serious staff shortage," Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said in a video interview for the Soloviev Live Youtube channel aired late on Saturday.

Russia has previously said that over 100 of its diplomats with families had been forced to leave the United States since 2016 when the relationship between the two countries worsened.

As of Oct. 29, nearly 200 Russian diplomats were still in their jobs in the United States, included the staff of the Russian mission to the United Nations, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

President Joe Biden's administration said last month that the staff of the U.S. mission in Russia had shrunk to 120 from 1,200 in early 2017 after a series of expulsions and restrictions, and it was difficult to continue with anything other than a caretaker presence at the embassy.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow stopped processing non-diplomatic visas this year and added Russians to a list of "homeless nationals" who can apply for visas in third countries.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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