The US expelled two Russian diplomats, weeks after Moscow ordered two Americans to leave, the latest tit-for-tat expulsions as relations continue to worsen between the two countries.
The move came after Russia removed the two US diplomats for contacts with a former consular employee, Robert Shonov, who had been accused of collecting sensitive information.
The US has called those allegations baseless.
“The department will not tolerate the Russian government’s pattern of harassment of our diplomats,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
The unidentified Russian diplomats were given seven days to depart the US.
That was the same amount of time given to US diplomats Jeffrey Sillin and David Bernstein, who were ordered to leave Russia last month.
Shonov had started working as a contractor after a previous reduction of diplomats, and the US says he was hired for routine monitoring of publicly available Russian media.
Russia in August announced his arrest on charges of passing along what it called confidential information on Ukraine.
Relations between the US and Russia have deteriorated sharply since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year. The US has said it sees no point in senior-level talks except on isolated issues such as arranging swaps of prisoners.
Even before the war, the US diplomatic presence in Russia had been sharply reduced after a decree by President Vladimir Putin limiting the hiring of local staff, with Russians seeking US visas often obliged to go to embassies in third countries.
Bloomberg and Agence France-Presse