Moscow calls United States visa move attempt to stir up unrest in Russian Federation
22 August, 2017, 00:42 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
In the latest tit-for-tat in the diplomatic standoff between the United States and Russia, the USA embassy in Russia announced Monday that it will suspend visa processing for Russian applicants beginning August 23. Russian Federation also repossessed a warehouse and a resort complex in Moscow used by USA diplomatic staff.
"As a result of the Russian government's personnel cap imposed on the U.S. Mission, all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations across Russia will be suspended beginning August 23", a statement by the mission, a division of the State Department, said. The United States has consulates in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg.
"The American authors of these decisions have come up with another attempt to stir up discontent among Russian citizens about the actions of the Russian authorities", Lavrov told reporters. No visas will be processed until September 1, when all applicants will be required to schedule an interview in the Moscow embassy only. "I can only say that we will not take it out on USA citizens, that is, if someone hoped that in that case one fool makes many, they were mistaken".
According to USA statistics, the Embassy in Moscow and Russian consulates previous year issued more than 180,000 such visas.
The staffing cuts were already slowing down the visa processing times.
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Even before the US announcement, consular work at the USA mission in Russian Federation had slowed significantly, according to daily data published by the State Department and tracked by Reuters.
Outside the USA consulate in Yekaterinburg, in the Ural mountains, a Reuters reporter saw a man unsuccessfully pleading with staff to accept his visa documents a day early.
He added that the US argument that its diplomatic workers can not issue the same number of visas with reduced staff disrespected the "capabilities and possibilities of the American diplomatic service".
Last month, Congress imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Russian Federation for its meddling in elections and its aggressive behavior toward neighboring countries.
After the resumption of services, only the embassy in Moscow will take and process applications and issue visas, a change likely to prevent many Russian citizens from far-flung parts of the country from traveling to the US. Moscow has denied meddling in the election and Trump denies any campaign collusion.
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