A Return to the Cold War? Russia Boots US Diplomats in Tit-for-Tat over Nerve Agent Attack

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the rising crisis between the United States and Russia reminds him of the Cold War.

“I think we are coming to a situation that is similar, to a large extent, to what we lived during the Cold War,” he told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York Thursday, according to AFP.

His words come after Moscow’s expulsion of 60 American diplomats Thursday.

“During the Cold War there were mechanisms of communication and control to avoid the escalation of incidents, to make sure that things would not get out of control when tensions would rise. Those mechanisms have been dismantled,” Reuters quoted Guterres.

“I do believe it’s time for precautions of this sort – guaranteeing effective communication, guaranteeing capacity to prevent escalation – I do believe that mechanisms of this sort are necessary again,” he warned.

Meanwhile, the White House says the move by Russia was “not unanticipated” and the US “will deal with it.”

“The Russian Federation dubbed 60 of our staff persona non grata and they now must depart within seven days. They also ordered the closure of our consulate in St. Petersburg within 48 hours,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday.

Russia’s latest move is in retaliation for America standing with NATO allies and expelling 60 Russian diplomats this week as punishment for Moscow’s role in the nerve agent poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in Britain.

So far, 27 nations are kicking out more than 150 Russian embassy and consulate staff over the attack.

Now Russia is promising responsive action against Germany, France and other countries that expelled Russian diplomats.

While Moscow avoided denouncing those countries, it accused America of “encouraging and fomenting a slander campaign against our country.”

Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov says “Russia remains open for developing good ties.”

The State Department, however, says Russia is not the injured party.

“They don’t need to act like a victim. Russia should not be acting like a victim,” Nauert said.

President Donald Trump has faced criticism for being soft on Russia.

Nevertheless, the White House stands by its latest move, saying America’s actions were “an appropriate response” to the poisoning on British soil” and that Russia’s retaliation “marks a further deterioration in the United States-Russia relationship.”

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