Washington: Russia expects the United States to order 28 Russian diplomats to leave by July, the Russian ambassador to the US said, although he promised that Russia would keep trying to avoid a diplomatic breakdown.
"A further 28 Russian diplomats will have to leave the US by June 30," Anatoly Antonov said on Solovyov Live show. The 27 Russian diplomats who were told last November to leave the US by the end of this January were threatened with arrests if they lingered a day longer, the ambassador said.
Asked whether the two countries were on a brink of cutting off diplomatic ties, the ambassador said that President Vladimir Putin would decide on the next steps.
"This falls in the competence of our president," he said, adding that the embassy would "work until the last diplomat to defend our national interest while trying to normalise the US-Russian relationship."
Russian diplomats last met with their American counterparts in Vienna on February 3, Antonov said, but the meeting failed to produce any positive results.
"Russian colleagues came there with a positive program that was aimed solely at removing all limits on diplomatic work in the US and Russia, allowing diplomats to work, as usual, ending the visa war and restoring functions of our diplomatic missions," he explained.