The Foreign Service Journal, September 2017

18 SEPTEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Putin Orders U.S. to Cut Diplomatic Staff O n July 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the United States diplomatic mission in Russia must cut personnel by 755— including diplomats and locally engaged staff—by Sept. 1. Prior to the announce- ment, the total number of employees stood at about 1,200. The order is in response to the increased sanctions on Russia approved by Congress on July 22, and which President Donald Trump signed into law on Aug. 2. In addition to the reduction in staff, Russian authorities seized two diplomatic compounds, a warehouse and a dacha (country house). This mirrors the seizure of two Russian properties in the United States in December 2016. It is not clear howmany American dip- lomats will be expelled from the country; the bulk of those facing dismissal are likely to be Russian employees of Embassy Mos- TALKING POINTS cow and the consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. “They will have to fire the Russian citizens,” Vladimir Frolov, a foreign policy analyst, told The New York Times . “It will create an enormous inconvenience for the U.S. mission here, essentially slowing down the work but not affecting its core functions.” Said the State Department spokes- person: “This is a regrettable and uncalled-for act. We are assessing the impact of such a limitation and how we will respond to it.” The departing American ambassador, John F. Tefft, also expressed “his strong disappointment and protest” over the cuts, which are reminiscent of similar “tit- for-tat” sanctions during the Cold War. Letter to S: Don’t Move the Refugee Bureau A July 16 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed by 58 former dip- lomats and leaders of nongovernmental organizations urges the Secretary to safe- guard the roles and mission of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. This was in response to a White House memo obtained by CNN suggesting that PRM and the Consular Affairs Bureau be moved to the Department of Homeland Security. The signatories, who have served under both Democratic and Republican presidents, also stated their belief that the Heard on the Hill “Adequately funding our diplomatic efforts saves American lives.” —Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), House Budget Committee hearing, July 19 “We are reducing USAID missions and eliminating economic development assistance to 37 countries around the globe, and the issue to me—aside from humanitarianism, the rightness of the cause—is that others will take advan- tage of our absence.” —Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, June 13 “If we don’t lead in security and com- merce, as well as in values and ideas, that vacuum will be filled by others, including those wishing us harm. Leading takes resources; sufficient resources are needed for our military for sure, but also for our diplomats working to end many of the conflicts impacting our security.” —Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, June 14 “A world led by U.S. leadership, leading with our values, is a better world.” —Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, June 14 U.S. Embassy Moscow, as seen from the street. WIKIMEDIA