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U.S. Consulates In Russia To Suspend Services In August Due To Workforce Limits

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan (file photo)
U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan (file photo)

U.S. consulates in Russia will suspend their operations as of August 1 due to a lack of staff after Moscow capped the number of its nationals allowed to work at the offices.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan told the Dozhd television channel (TV Rain) on June 27 that the consulates will be unable to process visa applications due to the staff cuts, adding that it will affect both Russian and U.S. citizens as well as businesses.

In April, Russia announced the expulsion of 10 U.S. diplomats and banned U.S. diplomatic missions from employing Russian nationals and citizens of third countries in retaliation for U.S. sanctions and diplomatic expulsions over election interference and hacking allegations.

The embassy has said that the limits would mean a 75 percent reduction in the consular workforce. It had earlier warned U.S. citizens in Russia to heed a June 15 deadline set by the Russian government when a temporary extension to visas, residence permits, and immigration documents expired.

More than 1,000 Russian citizens worked at the U.S diplomatic missions across the country until 2017, but the number has been falling amid deteriorating relations between the two nations.

The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia over Moscow's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014 and supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east, where more than 13,200 have been killed in the ongoing conflict.

On June 16, U.S President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Geneva and, among other things, agreed on the return of ambassadors for the two countries after they were recalled in April amid the tensions.

Russian Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, returned to Washington on June 20, while Ambassador Sullivan returned to Moscow on June 24.

With reporting by Dozhd
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