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Ambassador to Russia returning to US after Kremlin recommendation

The U.S. Ambassador to Russia will temporarily return to the United States this week after the Kremlin reportedly suggested that the diplomat leave Russia amid rising tensions between the two nations.

The State Department announced Ambassador John Sullivan’s move on Tuesday morning, writing in a statement that he is returning to the U.S. for consultations this week. In the statement, Sullivan said it was important he “speak directly” to officials in the Biden administration, and that he wanted to see his family.

“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,” Sullivan wrote.

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He added, however, that he will “return to Moscow in the coming weeks before any meeting between Presidents Biden and Putin.”

The move comes after the Biden administration on Thursday announced sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the SolarWinds hack, foreign influence operations around U.S. elections and other concerns.

In response, Russia announced on Friday that it would order 10 diplomats to leave the country.

According to The Associated Press, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Kremlin “suggested” that Sullivan follow the example of his Russian counterpart and return to the U.S. for consultations.

Last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry withdrew its ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, after Biden said that Russian leader Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinFormer Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting Hillicon Valley: NATO members agree to new cyber defense policy | YouTube banning politics, elections in masthead ads | 50 groups urge Biden to fill FCC position to reinstate net neutrality rules MORE would “pay a price” for his country’s effort to interfere in the 2020 election.

Relations between the two countries have been tense since Biden took office. Last week, Russia increased its military presence in the Black sea, sending two warships and 15 smaller ships to the area amid tensions with Ukraine, the latest sign of escalation with the U.S. over Ukraine.

The two countries are also mulling a potential summit between the two leaders this year. Last week, a spokesperson for the Kremlin said any possible meeting between Biden and Putin would be contingent on U.S. behavior.

Putin is, however, reportedly planning to attend Biden’s virtual climate summit later this month, according to Bloomberg News.