nsucurrent.com February 22, 2018

Russian Federation condemns USA visa restrictions in diplomatic tussle — BBCI

22 August 2017, 12:45 | Colleen Roy

Russian Federation condemns USA visa restrictions in diplomatic tussle — BBCI

Russian Federation condemns USA visa restrictions in diplomatic tussle — BBCI

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said U.S. diplomatic institutions in Russia must cut more than 700 staff members by September, in a measure widely seen as retaliation for the U.S. strengthening its sanctions against Russia.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

"Because of the required drawdown of personnel, all nonimmigrant visa interviews countrywide will now be conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow", the U.S. Mission said.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded by saying the move was meant to "provoke discontent of Russian citizens against the actions of the Russian government", but he said a "mirror" move would probably not be imposed by Russia.

The US has consulates in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

"Operations will resume in Moscow on September 1; visa operations at the USA consulates will remain suspended indefinitely..."

"You now have an entire nation's work coming through one office with far fewer staff", said Matthew Morley, an American immigration attorney based in Moscow. The NIV applicants who have their interviews canceled should call the number below to reschedule their interview at the US Embassy in Moscow for a later date... The United States was ranked 25th of countries to which Russians citizens traveled in the first quarter or 2017, former Soviet Union republics notwithstanding.

The staffing cuts were already slowing down the visa processing times.

The decision would come as a blow to Russian tourists, almost 250,000 of whom visited the USA last year, according to The Associated Press.

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.

Lavrov further said Moscow would first examine the measures adopted by the U.S. embassy in Russian Federation before making a decision on retaliatory steps, promising not to direct its anger at ordinary Americans.

Putin refrained from retaliating at the time but last month, after Congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against Russian Federation, he ordered Washington to cut its diplomatic and technical staff in Russian Federation by 755 people, or about 60 percent, by September 1.

They are also looking into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian officials.

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