Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said Tuesday that Washington is intentionally distorting the facts regarding the expulsion of Russian diplomats.
"The U.S. is trying to delude the American and international public, deliberately distorting the facts... the situation is exactly the opposite," Antonov was cited as saying in a Facebook post published by the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Antonov said Washington was the first to introduce a three-year limit on long-term assignments for employees of the Embassy in Washington, D.C., and Russian Consulates General in New York and Houston, while other diplomatic missions have a five-year limit.
"The U.S. side has made it clear that in case of a refusal to fulfill this request, the immunity and other diplomatic privileges of the Russian employees will be revoked," Antonov added, calling this move a "de facto expulsion."
The Russian envoy stressed that instead of limiting the country's sovereign right when it comes to staffing decisions, it was necessary to hold honest and respectful dialogue with Washington on the matter.
"We urge Washington to return to compliance with international obligations with regard to diplomatic property and a practice of normal functioning of the diplomatic missions," he said.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said Monday that the departure of a number of Russian diplomats from the United States wasn't an expulsion but an "approach used to create greater parity" with diplomatic missions.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in October that 55 Russian diplomats and staff will be expected to leave the United States "in the coming months."