| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Putin signs decree on countermeasures against ‘unfriendly’ countries

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on countermeasures against countries that take “unfriendly” actions towards Russia as a diplomatic row escalates between Moscow and some European states.

Putin signed the law on Friday to limit the number of local staff working at foreign diplomatic missions and other agencies, and tasked the government with providing a list of “unfriendly” foreign states that would be subject to the restrictions.

The law, published on the Kremlin website, authorizes Moscow to restrict or even ban employment contracts with “state bodies and state institutions of foreign states committing unfriendly acts against the Russian Federation.”

“Labor contracts with individuals in excess of the number set by the government that were signed before the commencement day of this decree are to be terminated,” the document said, adding that the restrictions “are not applicable to nationals of unfriendly states arriving from such states as employees of diplomatic missions, consular institutions and offices of government institutions of corresponding unfriendly foreign states.”

The decree, as the website said, comes into force from the day of its official publication and will be valid until these countermeasures are cancelled.

The bill comes amid growing diplomatic tensions between Russia and Western-aligned governments in central and eastern Europe.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday that it had informed Polish Ambassador to Moscow Krzysztof Krajewski that five employees of the embassy of Poland had been declared persona non grata and would have until May 15 to leave the country.

The ministry added that the measure came in response to Poland’s April 15 decision to expel three Russian diplomats over the allegation that they had been involved in “activities to the detriment” of the NATO member state.

On Tuesday, Russia expelled two Bulgarian diplomats in retaliation for Sofia’s recent expulsion of two Russian diplomats over alleged espionage activities.

Over a similar allegation, the Czech Republic had earlier asked 18 Russian diplomats to leave. Moscow responded with the expulsion of 20 Czech diplomats.

Russia has denied the allegations against its diplomats.

‘US foreign policy unstable, Washington’s credibility declined’

In an op-ed published by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency on Friday, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev censured US foreign policy as “unstable” and said the situation was “largely caused by domestic reasons but also by a certain decline in the credibility of the US as the leader of the Western world.”

Medvedev also warned that relations between Moscow and Washington had grown confrontational and plummeted to Cold War-era levels.

“In recent years, relations between Russia and the United States have actually shifted from rivalry to confrontation, essentially returning to the Cold War era,” Medvedev wrote in the article for RIA Novosti.

“Sanctions pressure, threats, confrontation, defense of one’s selfish interests – all of this is plunging the world into a state of permanent instability,” he added.

Medvedev also said that diplomacy between the US and Soviet Union only worked when the leaders from each country worked on “equal footing” and communicated rationally without threats.

The former Russian president said the row between the countries could be described as a crisis and warned that “any faux pas, any lack of patience, and any strategic understanding of the ‘weight’ of each word” could result not only in a military conflict between the two countries, but also throughout the entire world.

“The question on the agenda is whether the current US administration will find the ‘wisdom of compromise,'” he underlined.

Medvedev served as president of the Russian Federation from 2008 to 2012, and prime minister from 2012 to 2020. He is currently the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia.

Relations between the United States and Russia have been strained over such issues as Syria and Ukraine as well as allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, which Moscow has denied.