April 16, local time, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on the U.S. counter-measures.
The statement said the United States seemed unwilling to accept the fact that unilateral powers had no place in the new geopolitical reality. The continued short-sightedness of the United States to “contain Moscow” can only lead to a further deterioration of Russian-American relations. Against this background, the call from across the ocean to “avoid escalation of the conflict” is extremely hypocritical, in fact, the United States is trying to get Russia to agree with the United States “from the position of strength” to talk to the Russian side. Pressure, such as sanctions, is not only futile, but will also have disastrous consequences for the provocateurs themselves. It is impossible for Russia not to respond to an attack on Russia by the U.S. Biden administration.
The statement made it clear that Russia will implement the following countermeasures in the near future in response to U.S. sanctions:
Based on the principle of reciprociity, U.S. diplomats are expelled in the same number as Russian diplomats expelled by the U.S. side. In light of Poland’s expulsion of three Russian diplomats, Russia decided to expel five Polish diplomats.
Restrictions are imposed on the use of short-term secondments by the United States Embassy through the United States Department of State to ensure the operation of diplomatic missions. Based on the principle of reciprocientity, the number of visas issued by Russia to the United States has been reduced to 10 per year.
In strict compliance with laws such as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Russian labour laws, U.S. diplomatic missions are prohibited from hiring Russian and third-country citizens as administrative and technical employees.
In view of the systematic violation of travel rules by United States diplomats in the territory of the Russian Federation, the Russian-American Memorandum of Understanding on the Opening of Land, signed in 1992, was terminated.
U.S. foundations and non-governmental organizations controlled by the U.S. State Department and other U.S. government agencies are prohibited from operating in Russia.
The current tensions make it objectively necessary for the ambassadors of the two countries to remain in their respective capitals, to study the situation and to conduct consultations.
The statement stressed that the Russian side has always shown restraint. The Russians can do much more than that. Unfortunately, the threat of new U.S. sanctions against Russia shows that it is unwilling to listen to russia’s voice and does not value its restraint. The U.S. has been deliberately escalating tensions since former President Barack Obama took office.
After the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats and the seizure of Russian diplomatic missions by the United States in December 2016, Russia did not take any counter-measures for seven months, and did not respond until August 2017, when the United States declared Russia an enemy of the United States at the legislative level.
The statement noted that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow is more comfortable, more staffed and employs Russian citizens than Russian diplomatic missions in the United States. This gap frees up time for “nominal” American diplomats to focus on one of the main directions of Washington’s foreign policy: interference in Russia’s internal affairs. In response to the U.S. blacklisting of Russian officials last month, eight current and former senior U.S. officials involved in developing and implementing anti-Russian policies will be permanently barred from entering the country.
The statement also called on the United States to abandon confrontation and show reason. Otherwise, Russia will continue to implement other “painful” U.S. initiatives, such as requiring U.S. diplomatic missions to reduce the number of Russian diplomats to 300. At present, the two sides are not equal in terms of staffing, Russia is allowed to send 155 diplomats to the United Nations mission in New York, while the United States diplomatic staff in Russia is 455. In addition, if the United States continues to escalate sanctions, Russia does not rule out the use of economic means to counter.
The statement stressed that Russia hopes to avoid further escalation of the Russian-American confrontation and is willing to engage in calm and professional dialogue with the U.S. side in order to find a way to normalize bilateral relations. The reality, however, is that Washington says one thing to do. Russia took note of U.S. President Joe Biden’s statements about his willingness to build a “stable, constructive and predictable” relationship with Russia, as well as his initiative to hold a Summit between Russia and the United States. The Russian side actively accepts the U.S. proposal and is studying it according to the actual situation.