The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
Переклад цього матеріалу українською мовою з російської було автоматично здійснено сервісом Google Translate, без подальшого редагування тексту.
Bu məqalə Google Translate servisi vasitəsi ilə avtomatik olaraq rus dilindən azərbaycan dilinə tərcümə olunmuşdur. Bundan sonra mətn redaktə edilməmişdir.

US embassy cook in Moscow expelled from Russia after 16 years working there

The Russian government unleashes a diplomatic food fight with the United States and hits an unexpected target: the stomachs of its top diplomats, reports The Hill.

Photo: Shutterstock

Michelle Michalenko, personal chef to the deputy head of mission at the US embassy in Moscow, wrote on Facebook that after 16 years in Russia her visa was revoked and she is being kicked out of the country.

“Today I wanted to share that due to the escalation of tensions, the Russian government has put me on the list of other diplomats and contractors of the US Embassy in Moscow who need to leave the country. Our visas have been cancelled,” Michalenko wrote on Facebook on January 16.

“Farewell to my 16-year-old home shocked me. Leaving my working kitchen for the last time was the hardest thing I have ever done,” she said.

The move appears to be linked to the Russian government's decision in December to force the expulsion by January 31 of employees from the US embassy in Moscow who have been in the country for more than three years, part of a wider conflict between Washington and Moscow over diplomatic personnel.

The diplomatic row is escalating as the United States is rallying its allies to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin from launching an invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has deployed more than 100 troops on the border with the post-Soviet state.

Biden administration officials warn of an imminent invasion, but stress that they plan to use diplomacy to resolve tensions with Moscow.

A State Department spokesman, when asked about Michalenko's dismissal, said he could not comment on the individual's case due to confidentiality concerns, but expressed concern about the ability of the US embassy in Moscow to effectively conduct diplomacy with the Kremlin in the face of a shortage of personnel.

On the subject: The situation is heating up: Russia is taking out its diplomats from Ukraine and sending troops to Belarus, the US Secretary of State is urgently going to Kiev

“As we have said, diplomacy is the only responsible way to resolve our differences with Russia. We need to have open channels of communication, especially during times of heightened tension. A functioning embassy is critical to diplomacy, and as such, we continue to work hard to resolve this issue,” the spokesman said.

“We continue to call on the Russian government to be productive and conscientious about the staffing of the Mission. We are ready to meet with the Russians to discuss a mutually acceptable way forward. We note that the Russian Mission to the United States continues to be significantly more staffed than the US Mission to Russia,” he says.

Mikhalenko spoke candidly and lauded about her job at the US embassy in Moscow, calling it her "dream job" during a 2015 video interview with a Russian cultural news magazine, describing her favorite Russian meals and travels around the country.

She posted photos on her work webpage along with senior US officials, including President Biden, former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Russia forced a sharp reduction in the staff of American missions in the country and forcibly closed the US consulates in the Russian cities of Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg in December 2020.

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In July, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that the US would lay off 200 local employees before a deadline set by the Kremlin forbidding Russians from working in US offices in the country.

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