The United States has expelled Russia's number two diplomat in Washington in a tit for tat move after Moscow's expulsion of a senior US envoy, a State Department official said Thursday.
Sergey Trepelkov, the second-highest ranking official at the Russian embassy, was informed Wednesday that he had to depart, after Moscow ordered the US deputy chief of mission in Russia, Bart Gorman, to leave earlier this month.
The State Department official stressed that the expulsion was unrelated to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Gorman's expulsion, which was made public last week, was itself in response to previous US actions against Russian diplomats in the United States, the Kremlin said.
"The mass expulsions of diplomats and the growing 'visa war' are not our choice," Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.
Washington maintains a policy of not allowing Russian diplomats to stay in the United States for more than three years, the State Department official noted.