US planning to close last consulates in Russia Five rockets fired at US air base in Afghanistan

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Washington

Donald Trump’s outgoing administration is planning to close the two remaining US consulates in Russia, media reports said Friday. New comes as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office amid high tensions with Moscow.
The US will close its consulate in the far eastern city of Vladivostok and suspend operations at its post in Yekaterinburg, CNN reported, citing a December 10 letter sent to Congress from the State Department.
The move comes in “response to ongoing staffing challenges for the US Mission in Russia in the wake of the 2017 Russian-imposed personnel cap on the US Mission and the resultant impasse with Russia over diplomatic visas,” the report said, citing the letter. Ten diplomats assigned to the consulates will reportedly be relocated to the US embassy in Moscow, while 33 local staff will lose their jobs.
“No action related to the Russian consulates in the United States is planned,” CNN cited the letter as saying. The closures would leave the embassy in Moscow as the United States’ last diplomatic mission in Russia. Meanwhile, a major US air base north of Kabul was targeted in a rocket attack on Saturday but there were no casualties or damage to the airfield, NATO and Afghan officials said.
Five rockets were fired at Bagram Airfield in Parwan province at 6:00 am, said Waheeda Shahkar, spokeswoman for the provincial governor.
She said 12 rockets were mounted on a vehicle and five of them were fired at the base, while police defused the other seven. A NATO official also confirmed the rocket attack.
“Rockets were fired toward Bagram Airfield this morning. Initial reporting is there were no casualties and the airfield was not damaged,” the official said.
No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, and the Taliban denied any involvement. The jihadist Daesh group previously claimed responsibility for a similar rocket attack on the base in April.—Agencies