WASHINGTON, July 30. /TASS/. The ban on prohibiting the United States from hiring Russian or third-country staff at its diplomatic facilities in Russia becoming effective in August will result in the dismissal of 182 employees, will seriously impact the operations of the embassy and consulates as well as may influence the interaction with Moscow, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on Friday.
"Starting in August, the Russian government is prohibiting the United States from retaining, hiring, or contracting Russian or third-country staff, except our guard force. We are deeply saddened that this action will force us to let go of 182 local employees and dozens of contractors at our diplomatic facilities in Moscow, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg," the written statement by the US top diplomat said. At the same time, he expressed gratitude to these employees and contractors for their work and "tireless dedication and commitment." "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 added.
"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. 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," the top diplomat noted.
"We value our deep connection to the Russian people. Our people-to-people relationships are the bedrock of our bilateral relations," he added.
As Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told TASS earlier, the US embassy and consulates must bring their personnel lists into compliance with Moscow’s new requirements which prohibit them from hiring Russian citizens by August 1. The diplomat reiterated that in response to hostile US actions, hiring Russian citizens was restricted - and in some cases completely prohibited - for the embassies and consulates of unfriendly countries. US Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan earlier told the Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station that after August 1, 120 employees would remain at the US embassy in Moscow. Starting on July 31, the US embassy will stop accepting consular fees for nonimmigrant visas.