USA to Curb Issuance of Non-Immigrant Visas in Russian Federation

The US embassy on Monday declared that it was suspending the issuing of non-immigrant visas to Russian citizens starting from August 23. President Vladimir Putin's demand for the cut 755 staff from its embassy and consulates by September 1 "calls into question Russia's seriousness about pursuing better relations", it said.

Officially, Moscow's demand that the U.S. Mission to Russia cut its staff from around 1,200 to 455 people was retaliation for the Obama administration's decision to expel dozens of Russian diplomats last December.

Lavrov was responding to a question about a USA decision to reduce its visa services in Russian Federation after Moscow ordered the United States to sharply cut its diplomatic and technical staff.

President Vladimir Putin, reacting to new sanctions imposed by the US Congress which President Donald Trump reluctantly signed into law, last month ordered Washington to cut diplomatic and technical staff in Russian Federation by 755 people, or by about 60 percent, by Sept 1.

Trump signed the legislation earlier this month.

Klimov was responding to the USA embassy's announcement earlier in the day that non-immigrant visa processing would be suspended on Wednesday.

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U.S. Congressional committees and a special counsel are investigating the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian Federation used hacking and other methods to help Trump beat Hillary Clinton in last November's election.

Russian officials on Monday took a swipe at their American counterparts following a US visa freeze, accusing Washington of pushing for regime change in Moscow.

The embassy has already begun cancelling appointments and asking applicants to reschedule.

In December, after United States intelligence agencies claimed that Russian Federation had interfered in the USA president election with the hope of getting Republican candidate Donald Trump elected, President Barack Obama ordered Russian Federation to scale back its diplomatic staff in the U.S. and closed two of its diplomatic buildings. "We will maintain sufficient staff to carry out essential elements of our mission".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was an attempt to provoke discontent among Russians towards their own government. "Therefore of course, we shall examine it additionally", Lavrov told a press conference, Sputnik reported.

"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. The fewer there are in Russian Federation, the less the exposure and a win for the U.S.

  • Adam Floyd