Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has said that Russia is keeping open the possibility of putting travel restrictions on American diplomats posted to the country.
“We are ready to answer with a ‘symmetrical’ response to the travel restrictions imposed on Russian diplomats in the U.S.,” Zakharova said on Dec. 7, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
“If the current U.S. administration is planning to restrict their representatives’ travel within Russia, they should keep in mind that the principle of reciprocity lies at the cornerstone of diplomacy,” Zakharova continued. “Simply speaking, American diplomats in Russia will be treated the exact same way.”
Zakharova said that Russia would be forced to take these drastic measures by the United States. The position of the Foreign Ministry is that Russia is promoting cooperation and collaboration with the U.S., but is ready to go to such lengths to respond to “unfriendly” gestures by the American side.
On Nov. 30, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on the financing of American intelligence agencies. The bill includes a proposal for introducing travel restrictions on Russian diplomats in the U.S.
According to the draft, Russian diplomats would be able to travel no further than 50 miles from the place where they are posted unless the director of the FBI sends a written notice to a number of Congressional committees (including the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on the Judiciary in both houses of Congress) for each diplomat stating that the individual in question is not a threat.
The bill also proposes the creation of a special committee designed to counteract Russia’s attempts to “covertly influence nations and government.” The committee would be made up of a number of high-ranking officials, including the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the FBI director and others. The committee would meet at least once a month.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. It is expected to be taken up before the holiday break.