The US Embassy in Moscow may be closed – the warning was sounded after the demand of US senators to expel three hundred Russian diplomats. And although neither Joe Biden nor the State Department has yet responded to the call, the congressmen insist on their own. RIA Novosti figured out how the new round of “ambassadorial wars” would turn out.
Hostages of diplomacy
Skaters of the Russian national team, announced for the American Grand P-rix in Las Vegas, almost mi-ssed the competition. The US Embassy in Russia has been denying visas since May, if it is not about diplomats or emigrants. There a-re no exceptions even for a-thletes. They applied for permission to leave at the American Embassy in Uz-bekistan. The documents were issued, but the skaters and coaches had to get nervous.
Athletes Maria Lasits-kene and Angelica Sidor-ova were less fortunate. They missed the August round of the Diamond League due to problems obtaining American visas. Both athletes are leaders of the Russian national team. At the Tokyo Olympics, Lasitsken won a gold medal, Sidorova – a silver one.
Officially, documents are refused due to a lack of employees. Previously, local specialists were involved in receiving and processing. But in April, embassies of states “committing unfriendly acts” (the United States and the Czech Republic) were banned from hiring foreigners. Nearly two hundred people who worked at the American embassy were fired.
And against this background, a new round of exacerbation: the US Senate demanded that Joe Biden expel three hundred Russian diplomats from the country. In the appeal, the congressmen claim that one hundred employees remain at the American embassy in Moscow. There are 400 Russians working in America.
“There must be parity. Moscow should issue the required number of visas to our diplomats. The ban on hiring Russians threatens the daily activities of the mission. We must respond proportionately,” the American senators urge.
The White House and the State Department are silent for now. But the Russian Foreign Ministry reacted: “The congressmen miscalculated. There is no such number of Russian diplomats (300 people. – Editor’s note) in Washington,” the department said.
About four hundred employees actually work in Russian representations in America. But not everyone is associated with the embassy. For example, 150 people employed by the UN were sent not along the Russian-American line, but on the basis of international law. Accordingly, the Americans cannot unilaterally expel these specialists.
The staff of the Russian Embassy in the United States is also technical staff. Russian diplomatic missions abroad usually do not employ foreigners. Therefore, there are far less than three hundred diplomats directly in the United States.
“Whoever proposes such steps, apparently, is seeking the closure of American missions abroad in Russia,” they suggested on Smolenskaya Square.
Cleaning and cooking to Russia
“Ambassadorial wars” Russia and the United States have been waging since 2016. Barack Obama started them. Before leaving office, he accused Moscow of meddling in American elections and expelled 35 Russian diplomats. Several objects of Russian property were seized. Moscow responded in a mirror-like manner.
For five years they sent out ambassadors, closed diplomatic missions and seized real estate. This complicated the work of diplomats.
And in March, Joe Biden made a sharp attack on the Russian president. Moscow recalled its ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov. His American colleague in Russia John Sullivan also returned home.
After the June meeting between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, there was hope that the expulsion of diplomats would end. The Russian president proposed to lift all restrictions and return to the situation in December 2016. Washington promised to think it over, but never made up its mind.
In 2017, Russia established a quota for employees of the American embassy and consulates general: their number cannot exceed 455 people. But so far there are not so many Americans who want to work in the embassy as cooks, cleaners and drivers at the embassy.
Struggle for foreign policy
Ivan Timofeev, program director of the Russian International Affairs Council, advises against making hasty conclusions because of the letter from the US Senate. The political scientist draws attention to the fact that neither the White House nor the State Department responded to the demand of the congressmen.
“Letters to the president, complaints to various departments, demands and threats are the routine work of the Senate. Of course, there is no guarantee that the calls will not be heard at the top. But more often the president ignores them. For example, American lawmakers demand additional sanctions against Nord Stream 2,” tightening anti-Russian measures under the “Magnitsky law.” But the White House does not always respond, ”Timofeev explains.
The specialist also recalls the long-term competition between the US Congress and the executive branch for the right to conduct foreign policy. While the advantage is on the side of the president, he notes.
Pavel Koshkin, senior fellow at the Institute for the United States and Canada, links the senators’ demand to domestic problems in the United States.
“The letter was written by people who are not immersed in the Russian-American agenda. They hardly understand that after the summit of Putin and Baydan in Geneva, the situation at least for diplomats has moved off the ground. does not prohibit the hiring of American citizens to the US Embassy. It seems to them that if Russia has introduced a ban on hiring foreigners, then there are no alternatives and it is necessary to respond in a mirror image, “says Koshkin.
The political scientist does not exclude that the demand of the senators is an attempt to divert the attention of the Americans from the problems of the national debt and the threat of the shutdown.
“Congressmen are bargaining with Biden over the ceiling of the national debt. Republicans do not want to raise it and manipulate it from the other side – the Russian one. Hence the calls to expel diplomats, which means to disrupt the barely outlined advance of the president along the Russian track,” he believes.
The expert believes that the letter from the senators will remain unanswered. At the same time, he expects the return of diplomats to Russia and the United States after the squabbles in the American Congress are over.