Russia on Friday asked 10 U.S. diplomats to leave the country in retaliation for Washington's expulsion of the same number of Russian diplomats over alleged malign activity.
Russia also suggested that U.S. ambassador John Sullivan should return home for consultations, after Moscow recently recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday outlined some retaliatory measures to what he called ‘absolutely unfriendly, unconditional actions’ by Washington.
"We also have the opportunity to take painful measures for American business. We will also keep them in reserve."
The U.S. on Thursday imposed a broad array of sanctions on Russia, including curbs to its sovereign debt market, to punish it for interfering in last year's U.S. election, cyber hacking, bullying Ukraine and other malign actions.
Russia denies election meddling and says it did not orchestrate a cyber hack that used U.S. tech company SolarWinds Corp to penetrate U.S. government networks.
President Joe Biden (THURSDAY):
"I was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further. But I chose not to do so. I chose to be proportionate. The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. We want a stable, predictable relationship. If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I'm prepared to take further actions to respond.”
Despite Moscow’s retaliation, it left the door open for dialog and did not kill off the idea of a Putin-Biden summit.
Moscow’s response was mostly tit-for-tat.
LAVROV: "Today we will publish a list of eight officials who represent the governing structures of the Washington administration, they will also be included in our sanctions list."
Among those eight officials banned was FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.