MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has designated the United States and the Czech Republic as nations that engage in “unfriendly actions,” a move that limits the hiring of staff for their embassy operations.
The Russian government’s order that was posted Friday bans the U.S. from hiring local personnel for its diplomatic missions in Russia and caps the number of local hires for the Czech Republic at 19. The move would likely cost scores of Russians who work as support staff for the two embassies their jobs.
Moscow first announced the ban on the U.S. hiring local staff last month as part of its retaliation for a slew of new U.S. sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and for involvement in the SolarWind hack of U.S. federal agencies.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the United States has until Aug. 1 to comply with the new requirements.
Russia has warned the measure would also apply to other nations that engage in “unfriendly actions.”
The Czech Republic’s inclusion in the list follows last month’s diplomatic sparring between Russia and several EU nations that erupted when Prague expelled scores of Russian diplomats over the alleged involvement of Russian spies in a massive ammunition depot explosion in 2014. Moscow has denied any role in the blast.
The Czech Foreign Ministry deplored the Russian move as “another step in the escalation of the relations, not just with the Czech Republic but also with the European Union and its allies.”
“It absolutely contradicts the Vienna Convention about Diplomatic Relations, especially the commitment of the signatories to enable the proper functioning of diplomatic missions based on the principle of no-discrimination between individual states,” it said.
The U.S. Embassy in Prague tweeted that “We are proud to stand alongside our steadfast Ally, the Czech Republic!”