The Russian government has announced that it has drawn up a list of unfriendly countries that will be subject to special measures in accordance with a decree by Vladimir Putin signed in April. This only includes two states.
The United States and the Czech Republic are the two countries that form the List of foreign countries having committed hostile acts towards Russia, adopted by the Russian government, according to a decree signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Michoustine.
“Approve the attached list of foreign states which commit unfriendly actions towards the Russian Federation, Russian citizens or entities, which will be subject to (retaliatory) measures provided for by Presidential Decree 243 Russian dated April 23, 2021,” specifies the decree published this Friday, May 14 on the site of official Russian legal information.
The fact that the list of “unfriendly countries” includes only two states testifies that Russia is open to dialogue, said the spokesman of the Russian President, Dmitry Peskov, quoted by the Russian media.
Restrictions on “unfriendly countries”
The government decree defines the number of people that the establishments and diplomatic missions of the countries appearing on the list can hire on Russian soil – 19 for the Czech Republic and 0 for the United States.
This restriction does not apply to American and Czech citizens who work in diplomatic missions or people hired by private companies.
After the decree was issued, the Russian Foreign Ministry hoped that the United States would comply with the new modalities by August 1 at the latest.
In April, he had warned that Russia was preparing to limit the possibility of hiring its citizens by some foreign missions. According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Russian embassies have never hired nationals of the countries where they are accredited.
In late April, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow announced that it would reduce its staff by 75 percent as of May 12, which led to the suspension of several consular services, including the issuance of non-immigrant and non-diplomatic visas.
Deterioration of Moscow’s relations with Washington and Prague
Relations between Russia and the United States deteriorated after the coup d’état in Ukraine and Crimea’s decision to reintegrate Russia in 2014. Washington further accused Moscow of meddling in the American presidential election and of cyberattacks, consequently establishing numerous sanctions. The Kremlin, in turn, responded with retaliatory measures.
In 2021, the Czech Republic accused Moscow of being involved in explosions at munitions depots in Vrbetice in 2014. Czech authorities expelled 18 Russian embassy employees. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the accusations absurd and scandalous and declared 20 Czech diplomats personae non-gratae.
According to the Kremlin, the incident, which caused serious damage to Russian-Czech relations, is part of a large-scale anti-Russian campaign launched by the West. Several European countries have also expelled Russian diplomats, prompting a symmetrical response from Moscow.