Trump admin says it is shuttering last two consulates in Russia

The State Department told lawmakers last week that it would permanently close the consulate in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok and temporarily suspend operations at the consulate in Yekaterinburg just east of the Ural Mountains.

The notice was sent to Congress on Dec. 10 but received little attention at the time. That timing predates by three days the public emergence of news about a major suspected Russian computer intrusion into U.S. government and private computer systems that has raised grave cybersecurity fears.

The department’s notification to Congress, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, said the closures are due to caps placed by Russian authorities in 2017 on the number of U.S. diplomats allowed to work in the country.

The moves are “in response to ongoing staffing challenges of the U.S. Mission in Russia in the wake of the 2017 Russian-imposed personnel cap on the US Mission and resultant impasse with Russia over diplomatic visas,” it said.