U.S. scales back visa services in Russian Federation as Putin cuts its staff

"As a result of the Russian government's personnel cap imposed on the U.S. Mission, all non-immigrant visa operations across Russia will be suspended beginning August 23, 2017", the U.S. embassy posted on its website Monday morning.

Starting September 1, the embassy will be the only location in Russian Federation issuing USA visas, according to a statement on its website.

It showed that wait times for visitor visa appointments at the Moscow embassy had risen from 50 days to 70 days between August 2 and August 19, and from 17 days to 44 days at the consulate in St. Petersburg in the same time period.

"Russia's decision to reduce the United States' diplomatic presence here calls into question Russia's seriousness about pursuing better relations", the USA embassy in Moscow said in a statement on its website on Monday.

The U.S. State Department says it will temporarily stop issuing nonimmigrant visas to Russians in response to Moscow's decision to force the U.S.to slash its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia.

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.

But the decision also came shortly after the House and Senate approved of the latest round of broad anti-Russian sanctions that have ushered in even cooler relations despite the apparent affection between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The embassy statement Monday indicated that a reduction of staff would limit its consular services capacity to process visa applications.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

In late July, Moscow announced that the diplomatic presence of the U.S.in Russian Federation would be cut by 755 people to 455, the same number of diplomatic personnel that Russian Federation now has in the U.S.

President Donald Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, declared 35 Russian diplomats persona non grata in December.

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

21 de agosto de 2017, 12:10Moscow, Aug 21 (Prensa Latina) The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said today that his government will take the necessary measures after checking the U.S. decision to restrict the visa issuing process to Russian citizens. "Therefore of course, we shall examine it additionally", Lavrov told a press conference, Sputnik reported.

"We believe this to be evidence of Washington's attitude for further forced deterioration of relations with Moscow".

"That is why, the students who wanted to study exactly in the U.S. and turned to us at the end of spring, failed to be in time for these programs in July-August", she added.

  • Rogelio Becker