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Moscow will send another 155 US diplomats home

The US Embassy in Moscow (Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin / TASS)

Posted one hour ago by my favorite Russia MFA official. 

Let the Russians play their numbers game and then commiserate about the crappy visa processing time. 

The commentary in this article is especially humorous.

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(Translated from Russian by my Chrome browser) Source:

The tension between Russia and America is reaching a new level

Another 155 American diplomats can be expelled from Russia. This was stated by the Director of the North America Department of the Foreign Ministry Georgy Borisenko . According to him, Moscow can “take such a step in response to the situation around Russian diplomatic property in the United States.”

Borisenko recalled that diplomacy “has an unbreakable principle of reciprocity, and Americans know this very well.” “If they behaved in this way, then they agree that we can act in a mirror manner with their foreign institutions in Russia,” he said.

According to the head of the department, the figure of 455 people, to which Moscow invited the United States to bring their personnel, included the staff of the Russian permanent mission to the United Nations in New York. However, they do not engage in bilateral Russian-American relations.

“We actually gave the Americans a head start, they went to meet them. Since they did not appreciate this, we have every right to subtract from this figure 455 the amount that corresponds to the number of employees of our permanent mission. Then the number of American personnel in Russia should drop to 300 people or lower, “Borisenko said.

Recall: the worsening of the situation around the diplomatic missions began in late 2016, when former US President Barack Obama imposed another sanctions against Moscow. The United States then expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the country and closed access to suburban dachas of Russia’s permanent mission in New York and the embassy in Washington. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the White House in violation of international law went to the actual expropriation of Russian state property.

In August 2017, the Russian authorities decided to reduce by September 1 the number of the US embassy for 755 people, so that the number of employees of the US Embassy in Russia and working in the diplomatic mission in the United States became the same – 455 employees on each side. These countermeasures were a response to the actions of US lawmakers, who almost unanimously supported the bill on new sanctions against Russia, Iran and the DPRK.

President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Finland commented on the new package of sanctions succinctly. “At some point we will have to answer. It is impossible to tolerate endless rudeness, “the Russian leader said.

America owes its debt: in early September, it equalized the number of consulates. Up to this point, Russia had four in the USA – in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Houston. But the United States in Russia has only three – in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. Operating in “equalitarian” logic, the Americans closed the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and trade missions in Washington and New York.

Now, it seems, there is a new round of confrontation in the diplomatic war. What are the chances that we will send 155 American diplomats more than answer the States?

“The unresolved issue with our property in San Francisco, which has ceased to be diplomatic, but remains the state property of the Russian Federation, remains a formal catalyst for the confrontation,” said Mikhail Alexandrov , a leading expert at the Center for Military and Political Studies of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations . – The Americans actually occupy it, they do not allow us to freely dispose of it. In my opinion, the measure voiced by Georgy Borisenko is a way to exert diplomatic pressure on the US so that they do not take new unfriendly steps.

In my opinion, Moscow should have responded to Washington toughly at the beginning of the year, when it became clear that President Donald Trump, who came to power in the US , isnot going to return 35 Russian diplomats expelled by his predecessor Obama. At that time, we really could play a combination with the equalization of the total number of diplomats – both in the UN and in the embassies. But now, in my opinion, it is already inadvisable to do this.

The Americans have already hit hard. Therefore, if we go on the expulsion of another 155 diplomats, the United States in return can reduce the staff of the Russian permanent mission to the UN in New York. And this is not in our hands.

“JV”: – Imagine yet that events are developing in this scenario. How can Moscow respond to Washington in this case?

“If the Americans cut our staff in the UN, it will give us an argument to demand that the UN headquarters be moved from the US to another country. In principle, such a combination can be imagined, but it is better to use, I believe, other elements of pressure.

SP: – What exactly do you mean?

– It is possible, I believe, to take away the US Spaso House mansion on the Staropeskovskaya Square – the residence of American ambassadors. Still, this is a historic building, built in the 1910s for the multimillionaire, the “Russian Morgan” Nikolai Vtorov . Until 1933, Georgiy Chicherin lived in a nationalized mansion , and then, on the orders of Joseph Stalin, thebuilding was presented to the ambassador to the US, having attached a hall for receptions and dances.

If the US is behaving so ugly – let them build themselves an embassy residence in Moscow, in a simpler place.

But, I repeat, if from the very beginning we answered with a mirror image, and even with anticipation, the Americans would not behave themselves insolently. It is the current line of the Foreign Ministry – all the time to evade, retreat, maneuver – led to the fact that the enemy bit a bit.

“SP”: – The official representative of the Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, said that the US is sabotaging the peace process in Syria: about 600 militants penetrated the southern zone of de-escalation from the territory controlled by the Americans. Is the current diplomatic aggravation related to the Syrian events?

– In my opinion, it is not connected. In Syria, as well as on the diplomatic front, we must respond in a mirror manner to the actions of the United States on the actual support of international terrorists. It’s time, I believe, to strike at targets controlled by Americans. For example, at the At-Tanf base on the border with Iraq and Jordan, where US specialists train militants of the Syrian armed opposition, including a unit of the so-called “Free Syrian Army.”

It is not necessary that Russian servicemen inflict these blows. This could well be done by the uncontrolled armed groups of Hezbollah. You just need to give them the appropriate means of destruction – for example, the multiple rocket launcher “Smerch”.

If Hezbollah fighters get to the base within reach of the Smerch, they will hit and hide, Americans will suffer tangible losses. And then Washington will have to do something: stop supporting terrorist groups in the region, or get out, or go to an escalation.

And then the aggravation of US-RF relations will move to a new level, including in the diplomatic sphere.

– To further reduce the number of American diplomats proposed by President Vladimir Putin, – recalls Nikolai Topornin , ex-director of the Information Office of the Council of Europe, lecturer at the Department of European and Constitutional Law of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations . – When the US announced the closure of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco, Putin said that we consider this step an escalation from Washington, and we reserve the right to react to it.

The President of Russia drew attention to the fact that among the Russian diplomats – after mutual reduction – the Americans write down our employees working in UN structures. The idea of ​​the president was clear: people who are accredited to the UN permanent mission – this is quite another matter than the embassy workers, is it unlikely that the headquarters of the organization is located in the United States. As the Russian head of state noted, if you come to full parity, you need to reduce the number of American diplomats to about 300 people.

It is to this step that we, apparently, are going to go.

“SP”: – What will this step mean?

– Another round of confrontation. In the flared up diplomatic war, in my opinion, the parties can not calm down and take a break. The Americans have already started talking about the need to establish parity also by the number of points through which the entry and exit of diplomats from the country are allowed. As it turned out, our diplomats in the United States have more such points than the Americans in Russia.

But if you continue to be guided by the principle of full parity, you can go far. You can start to consider, for example, the number of dachas and ancillary facilities for each state in the territory of another country. Or the number of cars used by diplomatic missions.

Perhaps the Americans want to throw out another fortune – for example, to take away from us a couple more summer cottages or storage facilities in America. Therefore, we proactively hinted at the possible expulsion of 155 diplomats.

If events really develop in this scenario, this means the unwinding of tension in diplomatic relations. And this, I think, is unacceptable. Diplomatic channels should remain workers, and facilitate the search for a dialogue and ways out of their political crisis. This was the case even during the period of the Caribbean crisis. Therefore, in my opinion, in the current diplomatic war, it is appropriate to take a break.



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