Moscow to cut US embassy staff marking latest decline in US-Russian relations

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Top line

The American Embassy in Moscow has cut 75% of its staff on Wednesday after the Kremlin banned the embassy from employing Russians, marking the latest deterioration in US-Russian relations and cutting embassy services to the bare minimum, including “lifetime visa applications” or to death “.

Highlights

The new order will make it impossible for Russians, international students and relatives of Americans to obtain visas, and will make it more difficult for Americans living in Russia, or visiting Russia, to register their newborn babies, according to the Associated Press.

The Kremlin directive is the latest sign that relations between the United States and Russia have deteriorated significantly.

In April, President Joe Biden imposed economic sanctions against Russia for last December’s SolarWinds cyberattacks and interference in the 2020 elections, and in March Russian President Vladimir Putin recalled the Russian ambassador to the United States after Biden called Putin a killer in an interview.

Biden announcement Earlier this month, he planned to meet Putin in June during his trip to Europe for the NATO summit, but no formal plan has been established between the two countries.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last month that Russia rarely employs “local staff” in countries where it has embassies and therefore has “the full right to transfer this practice” to the US embassy. United.

Key context

Tensions have mounted between the United States and Russia since Biden took office. Putin had an overwhelmingly positive relationship with former President Donald Trump while in contrast, as vice president in 2014, Biden told Putin he did not think the then Russian prime minister had ” “a soul. In addition to the economic sanctions imposed by the United States on Russia in April, Biden also sanctioned six Russian companies and excluded 10 Russian foreign officials at the Russian embassy in Washington At the time, Biden called the actions “proportionate” and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the sanctions were “illegal” and that “the principle of reciprocity applies in this case “. The United States has also challenged the buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. State Secretary Antony Blinken trip in Ukraine earlier this month and said the United States was “monitoring” military activity “very, very carefully.”

Tangent

The recent cyberattacks against the United States could further damage relations between the United States and Russia. On Monday, the FBI concluded that a ransomware group, DarkSide, was responsible for the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline Company that has forced the main fuel pipeline offline since last week. While Biden said Russian officials did not appear to be behind the attack, DarkSide appears to be from Russia, and Biden said Russia may “have some responsibility.”

Further reading

What to expect from a possible June summit between Putin and Biden (The Washington Post)

Biden vs. Putin (The New York Times)


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