WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 31st July, 2021) The United States considers as unfortunate the decision by the Russian government to impose restrictions on hiring Russian or third-country staff and warns that it may affect the safety of the mission's personnel and Washington's ability to engage in diplomacy with Moscow, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Friday.
"These unfortunate measures will severely impact the US mission to Russia's operations, potentially including the safety of our personnel as well as our ability to engage in diplomacy with the Russian government," Blinken said. "Although we regret the actions of the Russian government forcing a reduction in our services and operations, the United States will follow through on our commitments while continuing to pursue a predictable and stable relationship with Russia."
In June, US Ambassador John Sullivan said the US embassy in Russia will be unable to fully provide consular services starting on August 1 due to the recent ban on employment of locals and third-country nationals.
Blinken said the United States is deeply saddened this action will force the firing go of 182 local employees and dozens of contractors at the US diplomatic facilities in Moscow, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg.
"The United States is immensely grateful for the tireless dedication and commitment of our locally employed staff and contractors at US Mission Russia. We thank them for their contributions to the overall operations and their work to improve relations between our two countries. Their dedication, expertise and friendship have been a mainstay of Mission Russia for decades," he said.
Earlier on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow expects Washington to bring its embassy staff in line with the new requirements no later than August 1 and this issue is finally and irrevocably closed.
In April, Russia banned the US embassy from hiring locals and third-country nationals as part of a wave of tit-for-tat sanctions. According to the ambassador, this will make the embassy unable to fully provide consular services.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in June that Russia will not hinder the United States from replacing local employees with US citizens, while the limit on the number of staffers must remain at 455,
On April 15, the United States imposed sanctions on 32 Russian entities and individuals for alleged cyberattacks and also ordered ten Russian diplomats out as well as prohibited US entities from purchasing Russian government bonds during Primary placements.