United States Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said Tuesday that he was returning to Washington for “consultations” with top American officials as tensions increase between the two countries.
The former deputy secretary of state and appointee of former President Donald Trump said that “it is important for me to speak directly with my new colleagues in the Biden administration in Washington about the current state of bilateral relations between the U.S. and Russia.”
Sullivan added that he was returning to see his family, and that he would “return to Moscow in the coming weeks before any meeting” between President Joe Biden and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
Sullivan’s return follows the Biden administration’s enforcement of an array of sanctions against the Russian government and expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats. The U.S. actions were a retaliation for Moscow’s attempts to interfere in American elections, the SolarWinds hack, occupation of Crimea and other autocratic actions.
In response, Moscow expelled 10 American officials and said that another eight – including Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas – would be barred from entering the country.
Sullivan was not one of those expelled or barred entry, but was instead “advised” by the Kremlin to return home, which Axios first reported. Sullivan initially refused to leave, saying that he would only do so if Putin forced him.
The U.S. has also spoken out against Moscow’s treatment of Alexi Navalny, a political opponent of Putin whose health has deteriorated after beginning a hunger strike to protest his treatment while in prison. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday that Russia will face “consequences” if Navalny dies.
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