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US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan has left Moscow to return home, state media outlets reported Thursday, after the Kremlin urged the White House to bring him home.
On Tuesday, the US Embassy in Moscow said Sullivan was would return to the US this week for “consultations,” but did not give a specific time of departure.
Sullivan’s departure comes amid high tensions between the Kremlin and President Joe Biden’s administration.
Russia had urged Washington to bring Sullivan home as it announced the expulsion of 10 US diplomats in retaliation to new sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats by the Biden administration.
The demand was a stark move: countries are usually free to choose their own ambassadors and it is rare, though not unprecedented, for host nations to object.
Russia had earlier recalled its ambassador to the US amid anger over Biden referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “killer.”
In a Tuesday statement, Sullivan said: “I believe it is important for me to speak directly with my new colleagues in the Biden administration in Washington about the current state of bilateral relations between the United States and Russia.”
“Also, I have not seen my family in well over a year, and that is another important reason for me to return home for a visit.”
“I will return to Moscow in the coming weeks before any meeting between Presidents Biden and Putin.”