Ambassador Anatoly Antonov accused the Biden administration of denying visas to diplomats' children
Russia's ambassador to the United States said that 27 more Russian diplomats and their families were 'expelled' from the United States and will have to leave on January 30.
He also warned that a 'similar number' will leave Russia in June as relations between Vladimir Putin's government and the West continue to worsen.
Speaking to a pro-Russian government news show on Saturday evening, Ambassador Anatoly Antonov accused the Biden administration of creating a staff shortage among diplomats and 'separating' their families.
A large group of my comrades, 27 people with families, will leave us on January 30... We are facing a serious staff shortage,' Antonov said in a video interview for the Soloviev Live Youtube channel aired late on Saturday.
'On June 30, a similar number will leave from here.'
He said in the interview, 'The spouses of a number of our fellow diplomats have had their accreditation taken away. The children are denied visas. I do not understand what this policy of separating the families of Russian diplomats is aimed at.'
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 chilled.
As of October 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 White House said last month that the staff of the US 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 Biden administration imposed a wide array of sanctions on Russian actors and entities in April
The US 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
The US 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.
During his Saturday evening interview, Antonov complained about the US government's sanctions against Russian entities and individuals.
The Treasury Department last imposed a wide array of sanctions on Russia in April, to punish it for interfering in the 2020 US election, cyber hacking, bullying Ukraine and other alleged malign actions.
The US government blacklisted Russian companies, expelled Russian diplomats and barred U.S. banks from buying sovereign bonds from Russia's central bank, national wealth fund and Finance Ministry.
But Antonov instead blamed 'Russophobia' he said was being propagated by the media and lawmakers in Congress.
'The atmosphere [in the US] is still poisoned with Russophobia, namely in the media, in Congress, in the administration. And this creates obstacles to building Russian-US relations,' he said.
Antonov returned to his post in Washington, DC in June after spending three months in Moscow during a particularly icy patch in US-Russian relations. He and US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan got back to their respective embassies after Biden and Putin's Geneva summit in June.