Washington: In a letter dated December 10 and obtained by The Hill news website, the Department informed that it will permanently close the Vladivostok consulate, while it will temporarily stop services at the second one in Yekaterinburg.
Regarding the decision, the Department said that it was “in response to ongoing staffing challenges of the US Mission in Russia in the wake of the 2017 Russian-imposed personnel cap on the US Mission and resultant impasse with Russia over diplomatic visas”.
The letter was signed by chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, House Foreign Affairs Committee and some members of the House and Senate Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, The Hill reported on Friday.
After the closures, the dates of which are yet to be confirmed, the US Embassy in Moscow will be the only American diplomatic mission in Russia.
The US Consulate General in St. Petersburg was closed in 2018 in a show of solidarity against the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK.
The announcement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin in his 16th annual press conference on Thursday said he expected that at least some, if not all, problems in the Moscow-Washington relations can be resolved after US President-elect Joe Biden takes office next month.
“We proceed from the premise that the newly-elected President of the US will understand what is happening… He is an experienced person both in domestic policy and in foreign policy and we expect that all the issues which have arisen, at least some of them, will be solved under the new administration,” he said.