The United States plans to close last two consulates in Russia

6 months ago Web Desk 0

The U.S. State Department confirmed on December 19 that the United States will shutter its consulate in Vladivostok in the Far East and suspend operations at the consulate in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city.


The Trump administration has notified Congress that it intends to shutter the two remaining U.S. consulates in Russia.


The U.S. State Department is shutting down its consulate in Vladivostok, Russia, and suspending operations at one in Yekaterinburg, officials confirmed on Friday.


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly consulted with Ambassador John Sullivan before deciding to implement the changes which the department says will “optimize the work of the U.S. mission in Russia,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement, according to National Public Radio (NPR).


The move is part of U.S. “ongoing efforts to ensure the safe and secure operation of the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Russian Federation,” the official wrote.


The closures mean the U.S. Embassy in Moscow will be the only remaining U.S. diplomatic outpost in Russia.


Russia ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg in 2018 after the U.S. ordered the Russian consulate in Seattle closed in tit-for-tat actions over the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in the United Kingdom.


Voice of America (VOA) says the consulate in Vladivostok had been temporarily closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and staffers there had already begun removing sensitive equipment, documents and other items. The consulates in Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg employ a total of 10 American diplomats and 33 local staff.


The exact timing of the closures has yet to be determined. VOA says that according to the notice, the American staff are to be relocated to the Embassy in Moscow, while the locals will be laid off. The department reportedly estimated the permanent closure of the Vladivostok consulate would save US$3.2 million per year.



Source: Asia Plus