BBC Russia correspondent calls her imminent expulsion 'shocking' and says she can never go back

Sarah Rainsford at the annual Edinburgh International Book Festival at Charlotte Square Gardens on August 20, 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

(CNN)A BBC journalist working in Moscow said Saturday that she felt shocked she was being expelled from Russia and said she had been told she could never return to the country, in what her employer, the UK's public broadcaster, described as a "direct assault on media freedom."

Sarah Rainsford, the BBC's Moscow correspondent, whose media accreditation is due to expire at the end of the month, said her forced departure comes amid "a massive deterioration in relations between Russia and the UK and, more broadly, Russia and the West."
"It's not a failure to renew my visa, although technically that's what it is. I'm being expelled and I've been told that I can't come back, ever," Rainsford told the BBC's "Today" program on Saturday.
    "To be honest, it's devastating personally but it's also shocking. Russia has never been a posting for me: it's not just any old place. It is a country that I've devoted a huge amount of my life to trying to understand."
      The state-run TV channel Russia 24 reported Thursday that Rainsford's visa would not be renewed, effectively expelling her from the country. An anchor on the channel said the decision was in response to the discrimination against Russian journalists in the UK who are not being granted visas or renewals.
      According to state media, the decision was a consequence of repeated attempts in the UK to revoke the license of RT, a Russian state-controlled television network, and constant pressure on employees of many other Russian media in the country.
      "Sarah Rainsford's expulsion is our symmetrical response," Russia 24 said.
        Rainsford said she had spent a third of her life in Russia and said the decision against her was an example of how the country was turning increasingly inward.
        "I wasn't expecting this to happen. There were clear signs for Russian media: there have been really serious problems recently, for Russian independent journalists, but until now, for the foreign press, we'd somehow been shielded from all of that," she said.
        Rainsford said that when told of the decision against her visa extension, she tried reasoning with officials by pointing out that she was somebody who understood the country.
        "The reality is that they don't want people like that here. It's much easier to have fewer people here who understand and who can talk directly to people and he