RUSSIA: Govt condemns US visa restrictions in diplomatic tussle

Russia has condemned a US decision to make Russians go to Moscow if they want a visa for the United States.

A US embassy statement said non-immigrant visas would no longer be issued at the three US consulates in Russia – only at the Moscow embassy.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was an attempt to provoke discontent among Russians towards their own government.

Last month Moscow told the US to cut 755 of its diplomatic staff in Russia.

The US embassy said that, in connection with Russia’s instruction to cut staff at US diplomatic missions to 455, US consulates in Russia would stop issuing non-immigrant visas for an indefinite period, from 23 August.

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

Most of the 755 US staff slated to go are “local hires”, so they will not have to leave Russia. The Kremlin says it is merely telling the US to have the same staff level as Russia’s in the US.

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