US Mission Russia Terminates Local Employees/Contractors Due to Moscow’s Prohibition

 

The US Mission Russia staffing issue that has been brewing for a while has finally erupted to a predictable conclusion. Previously, in late April we reported that there was supposed to be a Mass Termination of Local Staff, and Severe Reduction in Consular Services Effective May 12. That did not happen when Russia informed the US Embassy in Moscow of its intent to postpone its prohibition of the employment of foreign nationals until mid-July.  Presumably, the two sides continued talking but the issue did not get resolved.
On Friday, July 30, Secretary Blinken released the following statement:

The United States is immensely grateful for the tireless dedication and commitment of our locally employed staff and contractors at U.S. Mission Russia. We thank them for their contributions to the overall operations and their work to improve relations between our two countries. Their dedication, expertise and friendship have been a mainstay of Mission Russia for decades.

Starting in August, the Russian government is prohibiting the United States from retaining, hiring, or contracting Russian or third-country staff, except our guard force. We are deeply saddened that this action will force us to let go of 182 local employees and dozens of contractors at our diplomatic facilities in Moscow, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg.

These unfortunate measures will severely impact the U.S. mission to Russia’s operations, potentially including the safety of our personnel as well as our ability to engage in diplomacy with the Russian government. Although we regret the actions of the Russian government forcing a reduction in our services and operations, the United States will follow through on our commitments while continuing to pursue a predictable and stable relationship with Russia.

We value our deep connection to the Russian people. Our people-to-people relationships are the bedrock of our bilateral relations.

As of April 1, 2021, Consulate General in Yekaterinburg stopped visa and American Citizen services. In March 2020, the U.S. Consulate General Vladivostok suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Post did not resume its operations in due to critically low staffing of the United States Mission to Russia. It looks like following that suspension of services, U.S. citizens in the Russian Far East were still able to obtain services from the U.S. Consular Agency in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Visa services by then were provided solely by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow due to insufficient staffing. It is likely that this consular agency will also shut down.
We once recalled that in 1986, the then Soviet Union barred all Soviet employees from working for the U.S. Embassy or U.S. diplomats, in response to the expulsion from the United States of 55 Soviet diplomats. At that time WaPo noted that “225 diplomats and their families had to adjust quickly to the latest development in the embassy wars.”

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@StateDept Designates WHA/EX Christopher Del Corso as Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy Seoul

 

Christopher Del Corso, a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor has assumed his current position as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at U.S. Embassy Seoul on July 16, 2021. Prior to this posting, Mr. Del Corso served in Washington, DC as the Executive Director for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and before that, he was the Minister Counselor for Management Affairs and acting Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Seoul.
Mr. Del Corso succeeds SFSO Rob Rapson who was Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at U.S. Embassy Seoul since January 20, 2021 (Rapson is retiring after over three decades in the Foreign Service).  Immediately prior to being A/CDA, Mr. Rapson served as Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Seoul, 2018-2021 and was Political Minister Counselor and acting Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Tokyo, 2015-2018.
Also on July 16, Seoul’s Consul General Linda E. Daetwyler was designated as Acting Deputy Chief of Mission.

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Biden to Nominate FIU’s Francisco O. Mora to be U.S.Representative to the Organization of American States

 

President Biden announced his intent to nominate Fransisco O. Mora to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Organization of American States. The WH released the following brief bio:

Francisco O. Mora, Nominee for Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador   

Francisco O. Mora is a Professor of Politics and International Relations, and Senior Researcher, at the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy at Florida International University (FIU).  Earlier, he was Director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at FIU’s Green School of International and Public Affairs.  Mora served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for the Western Hemisphere.  He held several teaching positions, including Professor of National Security Strategy and Latin American Studies at the National War College at the National Defense University, and Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of International Studies at Rhodes College.  He is the author of four books and numerous articles and other publications.  Mora earned a B.A. in International Affairs at The George Washington University.  He received his M.A. in Inter-American Studies and a Ph.D. in International Affairs from the University of Miami.  He also completed studies at universities in Peru and Costa Rica.  He is a recipient of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, Department of Defense.  Mora is a native Spanish speaker and also speaks Portuguese.

If confirmed, Dr. Mora would succeed Florida state representative Carlos Trujillo who served in that post from April 5, 2018 – January 19, 2021.

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