The United States ambassador to Russia John Sullivan is refusing to leave the country after the Kremlin "advised" him to return home following new Biden administration sanctions. Two sources briefed on the situation tell Axios.
Sullivan's view, according to people familiar with his thinking, is that if Putin wants him to leave, he will have to force him.
A State Department spokesperson declined to comment.
John Sullivan has been the US ambassador to Russia since the presidency of Donald Trump.
When Russia's foreign ministry announced it would expel 10 American diplomats from visiting Russia, they did not expel Sullivan. Instead, the Kremlin summoned him to meet with a top foreign policy official, Yuri Ushakov, who recommended he go back to Washington for consultations with Biden officials.
"If the Kremlin wants to PNG ("persona non grata") him, that would be a very escalatory move," said Mike McFaul, who served as ambassador to Russia under President Obama.
He added that the last ambassador to be PNG'd from Moscow was George Kennan, by Stalin in 1952.
As it was reported, U.S. President Joe Biden has signed a decree imposing new sanctions on Russia. In particular, sanctions were imposed on 32 legal entities and individuals who made attempts on orders by the Russian government to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2020, as well as other acts of misinformation and interference.
In response, Russia has imposed personal sanctions against six US high-ranking officials. They are prohibited from entering the territory of the Russian Federation.