US bids ‘do svidaniya’ to Russian staff at Moscow embassy

Jul 29, 2021, 11:34 PM | Updated: Jul 30, 2021, 12:04 pm
FILE In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, The U.S. Embassy and the National flag are ...

FILE In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, The U.S. Embassy and the National flag are seen in Moscow, Russia. Today was the last day of work for all locally employed staff at the US embassy in Moscow, which is a big blow and a sign the Russians aren't willing to back down even after Biden-Putin meeting in Geneva last month and Sherman-Ryabkov in Geneva earlier this week. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW (AP) — The United States said Friday it has laid off nearly 200 local staffers working for its diplomatic missions in Russia ahead of an Aug. 1 deadline set by the Kremlin for their dismissal. The move is just the latest in a series of measures taken by both sides that have strained U.S.-Russia relations.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the layoffs are regrettable and something the U.S. had hoped to avert, despite a sharp deterioration in ties between Moscow and Washington, which show few signs of improvement.

“These unfortunate measures will severely impact the U.S. 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 in a statement.

“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,” he said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry was silent on the matter and the Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a query.

Russia earlier this year announced a ban on almost all non-American staff at the embassy in Moscow and consulates in Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. That came in response to U.S. expulsions of Russian diplomats and tit-for-tat closures of numerous diplomatic facilities in each country.

Those expulsions and closures came in the context of U.S. sanctions imposed over Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, and the arrest of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and crackdown on his supporters, as well as involvement in the SolarWind hack of U.S. federal agencies. All are activities that Russia has denied.

After the announcement of the ban, the embassy suspended routine consular services and since May has been processing immigrant visas only in the case of life-or-death emergencies.

The suspension of consular services has also left Russian businessmen, exchange students and romantic partners adrift because they are no longer able to obtain U.S. visas in Russia.

Still, the U.S. had been cautiously optimistic that the Russian decision might be reversed at last month’s meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva. But those hopes evaporated even after the two sides resumed strategic arms control talks this week.

Thus, Friday’s announcement sealed the employment fate of 182 locally employed staffers who worked as office and clerical staff, drivers and contractors at the U.S, facilities. Only security guards who work outside the gates of the compounds were exempted from the ban.

“The United States is immensely grateful for the tireless dedication and commitment of our locally employed staff and contractors at U.S. Mission Russia,” Blinken said. “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.”

“We value our deep connection to the Russian people,” Blinken added. “Our people-to-people relationships are the bedrock of our bilateral relations.”

___

Lee reported from Washington.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

TikTok star pleads not guilty to double murder in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A TikTok star with nearly a million online followers pleaded not guilty on Monday to shooting and killing his newly estranged wife and a man she was with last week at a San Diego high-rise. Prosecutors said Ali Abulaban had surreptitiously installed a listening device on his 5-year-old daughter’s tablet device, […]
22 hours ago
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks after dropping in on a meeting in the Eisenhower Executing Offi...
Associated Press

White House eyes new climate change strategies in Biden bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is zeroing in on a package of clean energy strategies for President Joe Biden’s big domestic policy bill that officials believe could reach similar greenhouse gas emission reduction goals as an initial proposal that was quashed by opposition. The Biden administration discussed the proposals Monday at the White House […]
22 hours ago
President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theate...
Associated Press

Billionaire tax hits critics as Biden pushes for budget deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democrats’ idea for a new billionaires’ tax to help pay for President Joe Biden’s social services and climate change plan quickly ran into criticism as too cumbersome with some lawmakers preferring the original plan of simply raising the top tax rates on corporations and the wealthy. Biden said Monday he’s hopeful […]
22 hours ago
FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, supporters of then President Donald Trump climb the west w...
Associated Press

Lawmakers defer some Jan. 6 document requests, seek others

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol “deferred” its requests for several dozen pages of records from former President Donald Trump’s administration at the White House’s urging, but President Joe Biden again rejected the former president’s invocation of executive privilege on hundreds of additional pages. In a […]
22 hours ago
Alec Baldwin speaks on the phone in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office in...
Associated Press

In fatal shooting, some political foes take aim at Baldwin

NEW YORK (AP) — Details are still emerging about how Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed a cinematographer on a New Mexico film set, but some political onlookers swiftly assigned guilt to one of Hollywood’s most prominent liberals. Right-wing pundits and politicians have long chafed at Baldwin’s criticism of former President Donald Trump and his […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Kim Wyman, Washington state's Secretary of State, poses for a photo on Sept. 15, 2020, in Ol...
Associated Press

GOP election chief who rejects fraud claims up for fed job

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican secretary of state who challenged former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud in 2020 is the front-runner for a job heading the Biden administration’s effort to protect future elections, according to people familiar with the discussions. Kim Wyman, 59, has led elections in Washington state for years, and […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
US bids ‘do svidaniya’ to Russian staff at Moscow embassy