@StateDept Finally Confirmed Expulsion of Embassy Moscow DCM Bart Gorman

 

US Embassy Moscow’s Deputy Chief of Mission Bart Gorman and his family departed Moscow on February 10 after being declared persona non grata by the Russian Federation. This blog learned of that departure on February 10. We posted about it on February 14 (see On Russia’s Diplomats’ Day, Moscow Kicks Out US Embassy DCM).
On February 17, the State Department spox confirmed to the press the expulsion. The State Department called the expulsion “unprovoked” and that the United States  “consider this an escalatory step” and is  “considering” its response.  “DCM Gorman’s tour had not ended; he had a valid visa, and he had been in Russia less than three years.”
According to TASS, the Russian MFA said that this “was done strictly in retaliation for the groundless expulsion of a minister-counselor of our embassy in Washington, contrary to his senior diplomatic rank. Moreover, the US Department of State defiantly ignored our request for prolonging his stay at least until a substitute arrived.”
So the Russian Embassy DCM’s diplomatic tour in DC concluded and the State Department refused to extend his visa. And the Russians were mad that their request was “defiantly ignored” … therefore they kicked out the guy in Moscow whose diplomatic tour and visa are still valid.
The State Department’s statement also includes this part: “We note that Russia’s actions have led to the U.S. mission to Russia being staffed at levels well below the Russian mission to the United States.”
And?

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U.S. Shuts Down Embassy Kyiv, “Temporarily Relocating” Operations to Lviv

Secretary of State Blinken on US Embassy Kyiv Operations /February 14, 2022 via state.gov:

“I have no higher priority than the safety and security of Americans around the world, and that, of course, includes our colleagues serving at our posts overseas. My team and I constantly review the security situation to determine when prudence dictates a change in posture. With that in mind, we are in the process of temporarily relocating our Embassy operations in Ukraine from our Embassy in Kyiv to Lviv due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces. The Embassy will remain engaged with the Ukrainian government, coordinating diplomatic engagement in Ukraine.  We are also continuing our intensive diplomatic efforts to deescalate the crisis.

These prudent precautions in no way undermine our support for or our commitment to Ukraine. Our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering. We also continue our sincere efforts to reach a diplomatic solution, and we remain engaged with the Russian government following President Biden’s call with President Putin and my discussion with Foreign Minister Lavrov. The path for diplomacy remains available if Russia chooses to engage in good faith. We look forward to returning our staff to the Embassy as soon as conditions permit.

In the meantime, I have ordered these measures for one reason — the safety of our staff — and we strongly urge any remaining U.S. citizens in Ukraine to leave the country immediately. U.S. citizens seeking emergency assistance in Ukraine should complete this online form, and the State Department will follow-up, as appropriate.”

WSJ reports that the State Department “ordered the destruction of networking equipment and computer workstations and the dismantling of the embassy telephone system” citing  U.S. officials familiar with the matter and internal communications reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.  “Those moves render the Kyiv embassy inoperable as a diplomatic facility.”
Remember that photo we posted about the closure of US Embassy Tripoli as they prepared to evacuate post in 2011? (see Photo of the Day: Sledgehammer Workout, No Joke). That’s that.
The Regional Security Officer and two Assistant Regional Security Officers destroy electronics at U.S. Embassy Tripoli on February 24, 2011 as they prepare to evacuate the post. (Photo from Diplomatic Security 2011 Year in Review)

The Regional Security Officer and two Assistant Regional Security Officers destroy electronics at U.S. Embassy Tripoli on February 24, 2011 as they prepare to evacuate the post. (Photo from Diplomatic Security 2011 Year in Review)

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.”

Related posts:

 

 

President Biden’s First Overseas Trip/3: Geneva, Switzerland For Bilateral Summit With Putin

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

President Biden is on his first overseas trip from June 10-16. He was at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, U.K. from June 11-13; in Brussels, Belgium for the NATO Summit on June 14, and the U.S.–EU Summit on June 15. On June 16, he will have a bilateral summit with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

 

 

 

Related posts:

Oh, Helsinki! Florida Man Sends Warmest Regards to Putin, ‘Swagger’ Guy Preens About Russia Record

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

President Biden will be in Brussels, Belgium for the NATO Summit on June 14, and the U.S.–EU Summit on June 15. He will travel to Geneva, Switzerland on June 16 for a bilateral summit with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin.
On June 10, the former president released a statement remembering fondly his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. We remember the bonkers press conference. Florida man also sent his “warmest regards” to Vlad. Over the weekend, the former secretary of state went on teevee and gaslighted everyone on the former administration’s record on Russia.  What hell-arious daymares we have!

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@StateDept Reactions: Americans Convicted in Moscow (Outrage) and Manila (Silence Now Concern)

Updated: 10:45 am PST

 

Trump to Nominate @StateDept Deputy Secretary John Sullivan to be U.S. Ambassador to Moscow

 

On October 11, the White House announced the president’s intent to nominate Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation. He would succeed Ambassador Jon Huntsman who announced his resignation this past August. Ambassador Huntsman’s resignation is effective October 3, 2019 according to his letter published by The Salt Lake Tribune. The WH released the following brief bio:

John Joseph Sullivan of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Russian Federation.

John Sullivan currently serves as Deputy Secretary of State, a position he has held since May 2017. He also served in April 2018 as Acting Secretary of State. Earlier in his career, Deputy Secretary Sullivan served as Deputy Secretary of Commerce and held senior positions at the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Commerce, advising the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Counsel to the President on legal and policy issues. Deputy Secretary Sullivan has also had two decades of experience in private law practice, including as a partner in Mayer Brown LLP, where he was co-chair of the firm’s national security practice. He served as a law clerk for Associate Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court of the United States and for Judge John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Deputy Secretary Sullivan received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and law degree from Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Teaching Fellow, and Book Reviews Editor of the Columbia Law Review.

 

Related posts:

 

 

Trump-Putin Summit Fallout: POTUS Entertains Proposal For Russia to Question Ex-US Amb Mike McFaul

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Trump-Putin Show: A Shocker to the World, But “Fabulous …Better Than Super” to Russians

 

The one-on-one summit meeting between President Trump and Russian President Putin finally happened today in Helsinki with no American officials in attendance as observers or notetakers, only interpreters.  The interpreter for the USG side is Marina Gross.

After a whole morning trapped in the vomitorium, we finally surfaced for air and some coffee. That joint press conference frankly was more bonkers than the SBC show we watched last night. After picking up our jaw from the floor, we saw that the Department of Justice this morning also unsealed a criminal complaint in the District of Columbia charging Maria Butina, a Russian national residing in Washington, D.C. with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States.

I’m still sick to my stomach. We’ll remember this Helsinki moment in the future.

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Trump to Nominate Amb. Jon Huntsman, Jr. to be U.S. Ambassador to Russia

Posted: 1:57 am ET
Updated: July 20, 9:48 am PT
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