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Putin Orders U.S. to

Cut Diplomatic Staff


n July 30, Russian President

Vladimir Putin announced that

the United States diplomatic mission

in Russia

must cut personnel by 755—

including diplomats and locally engaged

staff—by Sept. 1. Prior to the announce-

ment, the total number of employees

stood at about 1,200.

The order is in response to the

increased sanctions on Russia approved by Congress on July 22, and which President

Donald Trump signed into law on Aug. 2.

In addition to the reduction in staff,

Russian authorities seized two diplomatic

compounds, a warehouse and a dacha

(country house). This mirrors the seizure

of two Russian properties in the United

States in December 2016.

It is not clear howmany American dip-

lomats will be expelled from the country;

the bulk of those facing dismissal are likely

to be Russian employees of Embassy Mos-


cow and the consulates in St. Petersburg,

Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

“They will have to fire the Russian

citizens,” Vladimir Frolov, a foreign policy

analyst, told

The New York Times

. “It will

create an enormous inconvenience for

the U.S. mission here, essentially slowing

down the work but not affecting its core


Said the State Department spokes-

person: “This is a regrettable and

uncalled-for act. We are assessing the

impact of such a limitation and how we

will respond to it.”

The departing American ambassador,

John F. Tefft, also expressed “his strong

disappointment and protest” over the

cuts, which are reminiscent of similar “tit-

for-tat” sanctions during the Cold War.

Letter to S: Don’t Move

the Refugee Bureau

A July 16 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed by 58 former dip- lomats and leaders of nongovernmental

organizations urges the Secretary to safe-

guard the roles and mission of the Bureau

of Population, Refugees and Migration.

This was in response to a White House

memo obtained by CNN suggesting that

PRM and the Consular Affairs Bureau be

moved to the Department of Homeland


The signatories, who have served

under both Democratic and Republican

presidents, also stated their belief that the

Heard on the Hill

“Adequately funding our diplomatic

efforts saves American lives.”

—Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.),

House Budget Committee hearing,

July 19

“We are reducing USAID missions and

eliminating economic development

assistance to 37 countries around the

globe, and the issue to me—aside from

humanitarianism, the rightness of the

cause—is that others will take advan-

tage of our absence.”

—Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Senate

Appropriations Subcommittee

hearing, June 13

“If we don’t lead in security and com-

merce, as well as in values and ideas,

that vacuum will be filled by others,

including those wishing us harm.

Leading takes resources; sufficient

resources are needed for our military

for sure, but also for our diplomats

working to end many of the conflicts

impacting our security.”

—Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.),

House Foreign Affairs Committee

hearing, June 14

“A world led by U.S. leadership, leading

with our values, is a better world.”

—Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.)

House Foreign Affairs Committee

hearing, June 14

U.S. Embassy Moscow, as seen from the street.