Russia’s consulate in Seattle to continue working ‘until the last minute’
Russia’s consulate in Seattle, which is due to be shut down late on Friday, will provide services for Russians until the last minute, consul-adviser Halit Aisin told TASS.
"All the rest time we will try to meet on consular issues with the biggest possible number of Russian citizens," Aisin noted. "Now the documents are handed out which have been already prepared. Upon the US authorities’ demand the consulate general is due to halt its activity by 5 p.m. local time on March 30 (3 a.m. Moscow Time on March 31)."
Those Russians who will have to obtain passports, citizenship or notarial documents will have to apply to the consular department of the Russian Embassy in Washington and consulates general in New York or Houston, he said.
The consulate in Seattle was responsible for handling requests from people in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming, Utah, and also the Guam Island, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.
On March 26, the United States announced its decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats and close the Russian Consulate General in Seattle. Twenty-four European countries, Canada, Georgia and Australia also decided to expel a total of 63 Russian diplomats. NATO reduced the number of staff members of the Russian mission from 30 to 20. The EU recalled its ambassador for consultations, and Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia followed suit.
The UK earlier expelled 23 Russian diplomats and Moscow announced a tit-for-tat move.
This concerted action came amid the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, the UK, on March 4. London immediately accused Russia of being involved, but failed to provide any evidence. Moscow has rejected the allegations and vowed to respond to the unfriendly steps against it.
Russia has declared 58 employees of the US Embassy in Moscow and two staff members of the Consulate General in Yekaterinburg personae non gratae, they will have to leave the country by April 5, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday after the US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman was summoned there. Besides, Moscow has revoked its consent to the opening and operations of the US Consulate General in St. Petersburg.