Mon, 20 Sep 2021

Washington [US], July 31 (ANI): The United States has laid off nearly 200 local staffers working for its diplomatic missions in Russia ahead of an August 1 deadline set by the Kremlin for their dismissal, said the United States.

In a statement on Friday (local time), Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: "Starting in August, the Russian government is prohibiting the US from retaining, hiring, or contracting Russian or third-country staff, except our guard force," Blinken explained.

"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," he said further.

"These unfortunate measures will severely impact the US mission to Russia's operations, potentially including the safety of our personnel as well as our ability to enagage 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," he added in the statement.

Friday's announcement sealed the employment fate of 182 locally employed staffers who worked as office and clerical staff, drivers and contractors at the US facilities. Only security guards who work outside the gates of the compounds were exempted from the ban.

"The United States is immensely grateful for the tireless dedication and commitment of our locally employed staff and contractors at US Mission Russia," Blinken said. "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.""We value our deep connection to the Russian people," Blinken added. "Our people-to-people relationships are the bedrock of our bilateral relations.

Russia earlier this year announced a ban on almost all non-American staff at the embassy in Moscow and consulates in Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. (ANI)

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