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The U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Russia has been expelled from Russia.
Bart Gorman was reportedly kicked out of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. He is the second-most senior official at U.S. Embassy Moscow after the U.S. Ambassador. He is also a key member of the Embassy’s senior leadership team.
In response, the U.S. State Department described the measure as “unprovoked.”
“We consider this an escalatory step and are considering our response,” the U.S. State Department said.
“We note that Russia’s actions have led to the U.S. mission to Russia being staffed at levels well below the Russian mission to the United States,” the spokesperson said.
Photos have recently surfaced showing a kindergarten in Ukraine that was destroyed by shelling from artillery, according to Ukrainian military officials. Take a look:
Russian government operatives just bombed a kindergarten in Eastern Ukraine. The purpose of this is to provoke a response from the Ukrainians to justify a full scale invasion. This was exactly the same playbook in Georgia in 2008. https://t.co/yKtXYXcFGy
— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) February 17, 2022
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said they are aware of reports that a kindergarten has been shelled in eastern Ukraine. He described the incident as “certainly troubling”.
“We have said for some time that the Russians might do something like this in order to justify a military conflict so we will be watching this very closely,” he added.
Ukrainian soldiers have responded to the artillery shelling in Eastern Ukraine. The exchange of fire is ongoing.
One Ukrainian soldier as well as three civilians have been injured. The Ukrainian soldier is in serious, but stable condition.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he has been concerned that Russia might try to stage a false flag operation as an excuse to invade Ukraine.
Both the Ukrainian and Russian soldiers are accusing each other of violating a cease-fire after a shelling incident.
“Russia continues building up their military presence along Ukraine’s borders including in Crimea, in Belarus and in the Black Sea,” and that “in many ways this brings Russian troops right up to NATO’s doorstep,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia has enough troops and resources ready to begin “a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine with very little or no warning time.”