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The Russian government officially deemed the United States and the Czech Republic “unfriendly” states this weekend, declaring that U.S. diplomatic missions could no longer employ local staff while Czech missions would only be able to employ a maximum of 19 locals.
Russia first announced the ban on the U.S. hiring local staff in April in retaliation of a slew of new U.S. sanctions against Russia for allegedly interfering in the 2020 US presidential election and for its purported involvement in the SolarWind hack of US federal agencies.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the United States has until August 1, 2021 to meet the new requirements.
Relations between Russia and the Czechs took a turn for the worse last month when the Czech Republic accused Russian military intelligence of being responsable for the 2014 blast of an ammunition depot, expelling dozens of Russian diplomats.
Russia firmly rejected the allegations and struck back by expelling Czech diplomats, while also ordering the Czechs to revoke the majority of their local employees in Moscow, many of whom staff a Czech hospitality and business centre in the capital city.
Apparently, @eucopresident media team behind this tweet believes that the unjustified expulsion of ���� diplomatic personnel following absurd & unsubstantiated accusations resulted from an apparent false flag operation is helping to strengthen diplomatic relations. Hypocrisy. ���� https://t.co/PMTJJT3OaK
The Czech foreign ministry stated that the Russian move is "another step in the escalation of the relations, not just with the Czech Republic but also with the European Union and its allies."
“It absolutely contradicts the Vienna convention about diplomatic relations, especially the commitment of the signatories to enable the proper functioning of diplomatic missions based on the principle of no-discrimination between individual states,” the Czech government stated.
Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in Prague tweeted that “we are proud to stand alongside our steadfast ally, the Czech Republic!”