Russia has said it expelled two US Embassy staff members in a retaliatory move after a similar action by Washington last month.

"After their unfriendly step two employees of the US Embassy had to leave Moscow," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

One of the expelled diplomats was involved in an incident with a Russian policeman near the US Embassy entrance in Moscow, Ryabkov said, also claiming that both expelled diplomats were CIA agents.

"They were declared persona non grata for activities incompatible with their diplomatic status," he said on "the tit-for-tat expulsions".

"We hope Washington recognises all the same the perversity of its anti-Russian line. If they decide there to move further along the path of escalation it will not remain unanswered," Ryabkov warned.

US move

The US State Department on Friday announced that it had expelled two Russian officials over an attack on a US diplomat in Moscow.  

Department spokesman John Kirby said that on June 6, a Russian policeman attacked the accredited US diplomat in question while entering the US embassy compound, after the US official identified himself.

"On June 17, we expelled two Russian officials from the US to respond to this attack," Kirby said.

Moscow disputes the US version of events and insists the diplomat was a CIA agent who attacked the policeman as he tried to stop him to check his ID as he returned from a spying mission in the city. 

Relations between Russia and the US have chilled following Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, after which the West imposed sanctions against Russia.     

Source: Agencies