Russia has ordered 60 U.S. diplomats to leave by April 5, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, in a retaliatory move against Washington which expelled a similar number of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a Russian spy in England.
Offical Russian consent for the opening and functioning of the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg has also been withdrawn.
The Americans have been ordered to leave the building no later than March 31.
"We are not going to simply react to what the AngloSaxon countries are doing towards us, forcing the others to pursue the anti-Russian course, we want to find the truth," insisted Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Moments before the ministry announcement, Lavrov said Russia would respond in kind to the mass expulsion of diplomats by Western governments which include, apart from the United States and Britain, most member states of NATO and the European Union. More expulsions are thought likely to follow