U.S. halts non-immigrant visas in Russian Federation as diplomatic standoff deepens
Aug 22, 2017, 00:44
The United States said Monday it has been forced to suspend nonimmigrant visas in Russian Federation because President Vladimir Putin ordered it to cut hundreds of diplomatic staff.
Moscow has already responded by ousting hundreds of USA diplomats and barring access to embassy properties near Moscow.
Non-immigrant visas are issued to travelers who want to visit the US temporarily, as opposed to applying for permanent residency in the country.
Russia Foreign Minister Lavrov had similar comments, "The first impression is the United States authors of these decisions have plotted another attempt at stirring up resentment among Russian citizens regarding decisions by the Russian authorities..."
The US embassy on Monday declared that it was suspending the issuing of non-immigrant visas to Russian citizens starting from August 23. "NIV interviews at the US Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok are suspended until further notice".
Lavrov believes that the visa decision was made to worsen Russian citizens" attitude toward the authorities, and added the move resembled the logic of the masterminds of the "color revolutions, ' as well as "the purest form of the inertia of the Obama administration".
The U.S. Mission to Russia told anyone with a visa interview scheduled at any consulate outside Moscow could reschedule it in the embassy in the Russian capital.
While condemning the visa move, Mr Lavrov said Russia would not retaliate against Americans requesting Russian visas.
"This scenario would be like all of America suddenly only having one office in Los Angeles to process (visa applications from) New York, Chicago, DC, Boston, and Miami".
"The initiative of further deterioration - whether it is the expulsion of the Russian diplomats, or the "amputation" of our diplomatic property or limitation of places issuing visas - always comes from the U.S. side, " the official added.
"That is why, the students who wanted to study exactly in the United States and turned to us at the end of spring, failed to be in time for these programs in July-August", she added. As part of that response, the USA took back two compounds used by the Russians, one in NY and one on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Russia's decision to reduce the U.S. diplomatic presence called into question Russia's seriousness about pursuing better relations with Washington, the embassy added, while signalling its new scaled back visa regime could be in place for some time.
Last month, Congress imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Russian Federation for its meddling in elections and its aggressive behavior toward neighboring countries. Operations in Moscow would resume in September, but consular services for Russians in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg would "remain suspended indefinitely". Moscow has denied meddling in the election and Trump denies any campaign collusion.
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