MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Russian government has approved the list of unfriendly foreign countries and it includes the United States and the Czech Republic, a document published on the internet portal of legal information on Friday says.
“To approve the attached list of foreign states committing unfriendly actions against Russia, citizens of Russia or Russian legal entities, in respect of which the measures of influence (counteraction) are applied, established by the decree of Russian President [Vladimir Putin] dated April 23, 2021 No. 243 ‘On the application of measures of influence (counteraction) on unfriendly actions of foreign states,” the document read.
According to the document, the diplomatic mission of the Czech Republic is allowed to hire only 19 individuals located in Russia, while the mission of the US is not allowed to ink any employment contracts with locals.
Moscow said that the issue of staffing limits for the US embassy is now closed finally and irrevocably and expects the US to bring diplomatic missions’ personnel in line with new requirements no later than 1 August.
Prague said it sees Moscow’s decision to add the Czech Republic to the list of unfriendly countries as a further step toward escalation of relations with Prague and the EU.
Russia’s relations with the Czech Republic have worsened in the past few weeks after Prague expelled 18 Russian diplomats, accusing them of spying and being involved in the 2014 explosions in Vrbetice, which killed two Czech nationals. Moscow denied the allegations and retaliated by sending 20 Czech diplomats home from Russia.
The latest tensions between Russia and the United States follow Washington’s claims that the Kremlin was behind a cyberattack targeting the US SolarWinds Corporation, giving hackers access to thousands of businesses and government offices that used its products. The White House also says Russia interfered in the November 2020 presidential elections. Last month, Washington imposed a package of sanctions on Russian individuals, companies, and sovereign bonds on the primary market. Russia has repeatedly denied the US allegations and responded by expelling ten American diplomats.