Russia Could Restrict US Diplomats' Parking Rights in Consulate Retaliation

Frederick Owens
September 11, 2017

Speaking at a press conference in Jordan on Monday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would establish "what is called parity" in working conditions between Russian and US diplomats. This, according to Moscow, does not correspond to the principle of parity.

In July, soon after Congress passed a new sanctions bill against Russian businesses and individuals, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the United States must reduce its diplomatic corps from just over 1,200 to 455 by September 1.

The US has sort of pocketed our kind gesture and said, "If Russians want parity, make them close one of four consulates [in the US] as we have only three consulates in Russia". But there are more higher level USA diplomats in Russia, Kommersant claims, citing several diplomatic sources. Visa processing, after a brief suspension, has been renewed but at a much slower pace and only in Moscow, not in the consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg or Vladivostok.

In addition, the United States will be forced to turn to contractors for basic security services, the senior State Department official said.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin withheld from retaliating, and the incoming Trump administration and Trump in specific had vowed to ease relationship with Russia.

The diplomatic tit-for-tat, that has been ongoing since January this year, began after former President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian intelligence officers.

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Putin then ordered the first shearing of the American diplomatic corps, from about 1,200 to 455, though more than half of those removed, around 600, were locally hired Russian nationals.

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The statement echoed an earlier comments made by President Vladimir Putin who said that Russian Federation had the right to order the USA diplomatic mission to reduce its staff by an additional 155 people.

He reiterated that when Russia asked the United States to equal its diplomatic staff in Russia with the number of Russian diplomatic staff in the U.S. it showed goodwill and "included in this mainstream all those working in the Russian permanent delegation to the UN". That staff reduction saw approximately 755 employees cut from the US mission's ranks, about 600 of them local hires in Russian Federation.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters last week that Trump had personally approved the decision to take reprisals against Russian Federation.

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