Moscow calls USA visa move attempt to stir up unrest in Russian Federation

Alexandra Mudrats  TASS

Alexandra Mudrats TASS

The United States limiting the operations of its embassy in Russia evidences Washington's attitude for further forced deterioration of relations with Moscow, Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the Russian lower house of parliament's International Affairs Committee, said Monday.

All non-immigrant visa operations will be halted from Wednesday and will resume "on a greatly reduced scale" from September 1, with applicant interviews conducted exclusively in Moscow, the U.S. embassy said in a statement on its website.

After the resumption of services, only the embassy in Moscow will take and process applications and issue visas, a change likely to prevent many Russian citizens from far-flung parts of the country from traveling to the US.

In the capital it said "visa operations will resume on a greatly reduced scale".

According to USA statistics, the Embassy in Moscow and Russian consulates past year issued more than 180,000 such visas.

Russia is still reviewing the US Department of State's announcement on suspending issuing visas to Russian citizens before responding to these restrictions, Lavrov added.

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the U.S. to reduce its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia by 755 people, or by about 60 percent, by September 1, after his United States counterpart, Donald Trump, signed into law the new sanctions imposed by Congress.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Americans would have to cut about 755 staff members at the Moscow embassy and at three regional consulates.

"The decision is politically motivated", he told a press conference in Moscow.

A Russian flag flies next to the USA embassy building in Moscow on July 31, 2017.

The move comes just weeks after the Kremlin ordered the US diplomatic mission in Russian Federation to reduce its staff to a maximum of 455 by September 1. One of these consulates is in Vladivostok, a city in Russia's far east that's nearly 3,000 miles and an eight-hour flight from Moscow.

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