Russia Expels Second in Command at U.S. Embassy in Moscow

The second in command at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has been expelled by Russia.

Bart Gorman, the deputy chief of mission, had been in Moscow for three years and had an open visa with the country. No details were available about the circumstances surrounding his expulsion, although the Department of State referred to it as unprovoked to the Associated Press. The move comes as tensions between the U.S. and Russia continue to simmer.

"Gorman was the second-most senior official at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow after the ambassador, and a key member of the Embassy's senior management team," Embassy spokesman Jason Rebholz said, according to The Moscow Times.

"We call on Russia to end its baseless expulsions of U.S. diplomats and staff and to work productively to rebuild our missions," Rebholz continued, according to U.S. News. "Now more than ever, it is critical that our countries have the necessary diplomatic personnel in place to facilitate communication between our governments."

According to the Embassy's website, Gorman was responsible for "managing key aspects of the U.S. – Russia relationship."

U.S. President Joe Biden recently told reporters that he has "reason to believe" that Russia plans to invade Ukraine, despite its insistence that no such plans are in the works.

"Every indication we have is they're prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine," he said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, about the Russian troop build-up.

"We've seen some of those troops inch closer to that border. We see them fly in more combat and support aircraft," Austin said. "We see them sharpen their readiness in the Black Sea. We even see them stocking up their blood supplies. You don't do these sort of things for no reason, and you certainly don't do them if you're getting ready to pack up and go home."

The report on Gorman comes as U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrives in Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference hosted by NATO. While there, she is expected to discuss a "full range of issues," including the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian tensions.

"She will discuss the latest developments related to Russia's build-up on Ukraine's border, our work together on deterrence and diplomacy, our force posture and our readiness to further reinforce NATO Allies on the eastern flank," said an unnamed senior administration official. "And, of course, she will, as she always does, reaffirm our sacred commitment to NATO's Article 5 commitment."

Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for further comment but has not received a response.

Update 2/17/22, 10:35 a.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional comment about Gorman's expulsion, as well as more background information.

U.S. Embassy in Russia
A Russian flag flies next to the U.S. Embassy building in Moscow on December 7, 2021. The Embassy confirmed on February 17 that its second in command, Bart Gorman, has been expelled by Russia. Photo by Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images