Kremlin orders expulsion of large number of US embassy staff

TEHRAN, May 12 (MNA) – Under Kremlin orders, the US Embassy has stopped employing Russians, forcing the embassy to cut its consular staff by 75% and limit many of its services.

The order went into effect on Wednesday, bringing the sharply deteriorating US-Russia relationship to an intensely personal level, US News reported.

Because of the cuts, the embassy can offer only very limited services, such as considering “life-and-death” visa applications. That leaves Russian businessmen, exchange students and romantic partners adrift because they won't be able to obtain visas. Even Americans will be unable to register their newborns or renew their passports.

An order signed last month by President Vladimir Putin called for creating a list of “unfriendly” countries whose missions could be banned from hiring Russians or third-country nationals. The list includes the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Poland and several other European countries, but the United States is the first for which the ban is being enforced.

Diplomatic tensions between Russia and the West escalated after the Czech Republic accused Russia of involvement in the explosion of two munitions depots in the country.

The Czech Republic has announced its decision to expel 18 Russian diplomats following allegations that the Czech government accused Russia of carrying out two bombings in an ammunition depot in 2014 that killed two people.

Russia has expelled 20 diplomats from the Czech Republic as well in reaction to the Czech government's decision.

In recent weeks, Western countries, including the United States, Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, have expelled a number of Russian diplomats, which has been met with a reciprocal response from Moscow.

ZZ/FNA14000222000661/PR

News Code 173369

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