• Tuesday, Sep 21, 2021
  • Last Update : 05:14 am

Moscow decries 'unfriendly actions' as US ends visa services for most Russians

  • Published at 11:48 am May 1st, 2021
web-Kremlin-Moscow-Russia-AFP-21-10-18
The Kremlin is seen through autumn leaves in Moscow on October 15, 2018 AFP

Russians will no longer be able to apply for visas inside Russia to visit the United States for tourism and other purposes


The Kremlin accused Washington on Friday of fuelling tension with "unfriendly actions" after the US embassy in Moscow said it was cutting staff and stopping processing visas for most Russians.

The embassy said it was cutting consular staff by 75% and that from May 12 it would stop processing non-immigrant visas for non-diplomatic travel after a new Russian law imposed limits on how many local staff can work at foreign diplomatic missions.

That means Russians, who are not diplomats or green card seekers, will no longer be able to apply inside their own country for visas to visit the United States for tourism and other purposes. They will have to make such applications in third countries instead if they need to.

The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that Russian consulates in the United States were still issuing visas within 10 days despite suffering diplomatic cutbacks themselves and said there was nothing to stop Washington from topping up staff by bringing in US nationals.

It said the US diplomatic staff quota in Russia stood at 455, but that there were only 280 accredited employees, giving Washington ample room to top up staff numbers.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the embassy's decision would have little practical impact because, he said, Russians have already been struggling to get US visas.

"You know, here one has to look at the root cause of the tense situation that is developing in our bilateral relations," Peskov told reporters.

"If you unravel the knot of unfriendly steps in the opposite direction, then it becomes obvious that the precursor to all of this is the unfriendly actions of the United States."

He said Russia had "expected better" of the first 100 days of Joe Biden's US presidency.

He welcomed moves to extend the New START nuclear arms treaty. "But this positive baggage is still small in comparison with the load of negativity that we have accumulated over these 100 days. This load unfortunately prevails," he said.

Moscow and Washington have long differed over a range of issues, but ties slumped further after Biden said he believed President Vladimir Putin was "a killer.”

Sanctions

The United States imposed sanctions on Russia this month for alleged malign activity, including interfering in last year's US election, cyber hacking and "bullying" neighbouring Ukraine.

Moscow retaliated with sanctions against the United States, and has rejected US criticism of its treatment of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Russia's ties with several countries in central and eastern Europe have also deteriorated in recent weeks, leading to a series of diplomatic expulsions.

When Putin signed the law limiting local staff employed at diplomatic missions last week, he also told the government to draw up a list of "unfriendly" states to be subject to the restrictions.

A draft list published by Russian state TV suggests the United States is one of the countries that will be on it.

"We regret that the actions of the Russian government have forced us to reduce our consular workforce by 75%," the US embassy said in a statement.

"Effective May 12, US Embassy Moscow will reduce consular services offered to include only emergency US citizen services and a very limited number of age-out and life or death emergency immigrant visas," it said.

"I have always been afraid of the 'Iron Curtain,' only now it's not being imposed by our side, but by the other side," said Ksenia Sobchak, a former Russian presidential candidate.

52
Facebook 51
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail