Russia classifies US and Czech Republic as ‘hostile states’
MOSCOW: Russia officially designated the United States and the Czech Republic as “hostile states” on Friday May 14 amid the biggest crisis in Moscow-Washington relations in years.
The Russian government issued a decree signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin which was accompanied by a list of “hostile states” which “carried out hostile actions” against Russia, Russian nationals or Russian entities.
The list now includes the United States and the Czech Republic.
The Czech embassy will not be allowed to employ more than 19 Russian nationals and the U.S. embassy none at all, Moscow said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that Moscow remained ready for dialogue, the state-run TASS news agency reported, stressing that Russia now had only two nations on its list of “hostile states”.
In recent months, tensions have intensified between Russia and the West over a litany of issues, including the build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, interference in the US elections and other activities seen as hostile.
Russian-American relations quickly deteriorated after Joe Biden increased pressure on the Kremlin since he became President of the United States in January.
Washington in April announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what it says was Kremlin interference in the US election, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.
In response, Russia expelled 10 U.S. diplomats, barred senior U.S. officials from entering the country, and banned the U.S. embassy from employing foreign nationals.
After Biden compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to a “killer,” Russia temporarily recalled its US ambassador and later said the US envoy should also travel to Washington for consultations.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow was forced to suspend most consular services to its nationals and stopped issuing visas due to a drastic reduction in staff following tit-for-tat sanctions.
But on Friday, he announced that he would temporarily resume consular services for his citizens “until July 16”.
Tensions also escalated with the Czech Republic after Prague accused Russian military intelligence services of causing a deadly explosion at an ammunition depot in eastern Czech Republic in 2014.
Moscow said last month it would cap the number of Czech embassy staff in a tit-for-tat move after the EU country announced it was expelling dozens of Russian diplomats.