US and Russia clash again over embassy staff levels

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The United States and Russia clashed on Monday over staffing allowed at their respective embassies despite the latest talks aimed at bringing more stability to a turbulent relationship.

In an interview, Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov lamented what he called “expulsions” of Moscow diplomats, saying the United States had become “persistent and creative in this area” by limiting only Russians have three-year visas.

“We have received a list of 24 diplomats who are expected to leave the country by September 3, 2021. Almost all will leave without replacement because Washington has abruptly tightened visa issuance procedures,” he told the US monthly. international affairs The National Interest. .

State Department spokesman Ned Price called the ambassador’s comments “inaccurate,” saying the Russians knew their visas would expire after three years and were free to apply for. extensions.

But he reiterated a complaint that Moscow forced Washington to fire nearly 200 US diplomatic mission premises in Russia as of Sunday due to a new ban on hiring Russian or third-country staff.

“It is unfortunate because these measures have a negative impact on the operation of the US mission in Russia, potentially on the safety and security of our personnel, as well as on our ability to engage in diplomacy with the Russian government,” he said. Price told reporters.

“I will say that we reserve the right to take appropriate response measures to Russia’s actions,” he said, while denying that the three-year validity of the visas was tied.

But President Joe Biden’s administration on April 15 expelled 10 Russian diplomats for what Washington claimed was Russian involvement in election interference and a cyberattack.

Price described the past actions as a “response to the Russian government’s nefarious actions,” but said the United States values ​​”open channels of communication.”

Biden met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva in June, with the two leaders describing the meeting as commercial despite the extent of the differences between the two countries.

Last week, senior officials met again in Geneva to discuss arms control, as part of a new dialogue established by Putin and Biden in a bid to encourage greater predictability in the relationship.


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