Published: Tue, August 22, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

United States embassy in Russian Federation to scale back visa services amid tensions

United States embassy in Russian Federation to scale back visa services amid tensions

The US embassy in Moscow is to stop issuing visas to Russians, citing the cap on its personnel after it was ordered to cut two thirds of its diplomatic staff.

"Capacity for interviews in the future will be greatly reduced because we have had to greatly reduce our staffing levels to comply with the Russian government's requirement", the embassy told applicants in a note on its web site.

Putin's decision came in retaliation for sanctions imposed by the USA on Russian Federation for its meddling in the 2016 US election. Visa operations will be resumed only in the main embassy building in Moscow on September 1.

"The American diplomatic school, diplomatic service, just as the Russian one, has great traditions and experience in preparing professional staff", he said.

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted in an interview with VGTRK host Vladimir Solovyov that a total of 755 USA diplomats and technical staff members are to leave Russia.

President Putin said that Moscow felt forced to reciprocate to the new package of sanctions against what he dismissed as "unfounded accusations", but that it would hold off on further steps against the U.S.

When operations resume September 1, interviews will only be conducted in Moscow, while visa activities remain suspended indefinitely at US consulates across Russian Federation.

The US and its allies in Europe imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russian Federation after the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea made a decision to join Russian Federation while accusations have been leveled against Russian Federation over its alleged support for pro-Russia forces engaged in fighting with the Kiev government in eastern Ukraine.

The changes will also impact those applying for immigration visas, potentially delaying long scheduled interviews, extending the amount of time between the application and approval or denial by USA authorities. This action will result in significant delays for students, business persons and tourists who planned to travel to the United States in the coming weeks and months.

"We will maintain sufficient staff to carry out essential elements of our mission", the embassy added.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the trying to whip up resentment among Russian citizens on the decisions taken by Russian authorities.

"It is a well-known logic", Lavrov said, answering a question at a joint press conference in Moscow with his Egyptian counterpart. "They also realize that the suspension of visa issuance operations is not caused by purely technical reasons and that the American diplomatic mission's staff members have all the means to fully do so in spite of the staff cuts".

In comparison, it takes only one day to make an appointment for applicants for USA visitor visas in Latvian capital Riga, four days in Kiev, Ukraine, and 20 days in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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