Washington closes U.S. consulates in Russia
Washington will close both US consulates in Russia, according to CNN, while President-elect Joe Biden is preparing for the transition amid tensions with Moscow, suspected of being the source of a cyber attack.
The State Department will close the consulate in Vladivostok, in the Russian Far East, and suspend the activities of the one in Ekaterinburg, the station reported on Friday, citing a letter from the State Department addressed to Congress on December 10.
The decision was made “in response to the continuing staffing problems in the US mission to Russia, following Russia’s imposition of a limit on the US mission in 2017 and the ensuing impasse with Russia over diplomatic visas,” said the CNN.
Ten US diplomats seconded to consulates will be transferred to the United States Embassy in Moscow, while 33 local officials will lose their jobs, according to the channel.
“No action is planned on Russian consulates in the United States,” says the letter cited by CNN.
Thus, the embassy in Moscow will be the only diplomatic representation of the United States in Russia.
Russia had closed the United States consulate in St. Petersburg in March 2018 after similar measures were taken by Washington in relation to the case of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned in the United Kingdom.
The United States on Friday accused Russia of being most likely behind the cyber attack that hit them. According to security experts, this operation could give attackers access to critical computer systems and electrical networks.
The executive director of Joe Biden’s transition team, Yohannes Abraham, said the attack was a source of “great concern” and that under the Biden administration, cyber attacks would encounter a reaction that would inflict a “substantial cost”.
Russia has denied any involvement in the cyber attack.
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