Dec 19, 2020 - World

U.S. plans to close two consulates in Russia

A security officer walking in front of the the embassy of the United States of America in Moscow in 2018.
A security officer walking in front of the the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 2018. Photo: Vasily Maximov/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. State Department will close its consulate in Vladivostok, Russia, and suspend operations at the U.S. Consulate General in Yekaterinburg, leaving the embassy in Moscow as the only remaining U.S. diplomatic outpost in Russia, a State Department spokesperson told Axios.

Why it matters: The closures come amid a massive cyberattack on U.S. government departments and agencies — including the State Department — and private companies that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says was "clearly" carried out by Russia.

The big picture: A spokesperson for the department said the closures will "optimize the work of the U.S. mission in Russia" and "ensure the safe and secure operation of the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Russian Federation."

  • The department informed Congress of the changes in a notification dated Dec. 10, according to AP, which obtained a copy of the notice.
  • The department told lawmakers that the changes were “in response to ongoing staffing challenges of the U.S. 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."
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