TEHRAN (Defapres) - Following the escalation of tensions between Moscow and Washington over US accusations against Russia over cyberattacks on US government agencies, Washington announced plans to close its two remaining consulates in Russia.
News ID: 82786
Publish Date: 21December 2020 - 14:37
The State Department has informed Congress that it plans to shutter its last two consulates in Russia over caps set by Moscow on the number of diplomats that are allowed in the country.
In a letter to congressional leaders sent Dec. 10 and obtained by The Hill, the administration said it will permanently close its Vladivostok consulate and temporarily halt work at the consulate in Yekaterinburg.
The letter confirming the closures was sent three days before news broke of a major hack of US government agencies that is believed to have been conducted by an elite Russian cyber espionage unit, The Hill reported.
The consulate closures are “in response to ongoing staffing challenges of the US Mission in Russia in the wake of the 2017 Russian-imposed personnel cap on the US Mission and resultant impasse with Russia over diplomatic visas,” the letter reads.
The chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and some members of the House and Senate Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs signed the letter.
The move means the US Embassy in Moscow will be the only diplomatic installation in Russia. It also leaves the US without a diplomatic presence throughout a massive swath of Russian territory, which will hinder both efforts by Americans to travel to Russia and Russians to obtain visas to the US.
It was not immediately clear precisely when the consulates will be closed, after which the workers there will be moved to the Moscow embassy.
In one of the most recent cases, the United States has claimed that Russia was behind recent attacks on key US government agencies, which Russia has dismissed as baseless.