United States cuts visa service after Russian Federation orders staff reduced

US to suspend nonimmigrant visa operations in Russia

The United States said Monday it has been forced to suspend nonimmigrant visas in Russian Federation because President Vladimir Putin ordered it to cut hundreds of diplomatic staff.

The United States says that "all nonimmigrant visa operations" at US missions across Russia will be suspended as of August 23 due to the Russian-imposed cap on USA diplomatic staff.

However, visa operations at the USA consulates will "remain suspended indefinitely", a statement said.

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

The U.S. Mission to Russia told anyone with a visa interview scheduled at any consulate outside Moscow could reschedule it in the embassy in the Russian capital.

Earlier this month the Kremlin ordered the United States to slash its diplomatic work-force by almost two-thirds - cutting 755 positions. As part of the suspension of non-immigrant visa operations, interviews already set up for Russians' visa applications between Wednesday and the end of the month will be cancelled. Russian Federation also repossessed a warehouse and a resort complex in Moscow used by USA diplomatic staff.

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

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. Moscow responded with the order for the USA to cut its embassy staff.

But last month the United States congress voted overwhelmingly to ramp up sanctions against Russia for its interference in the USA election - a charge Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed as "unfounded accusations".

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said during a news conference in Moscow that the announcement was "another attempt to make the Russian citizen angry about the actions of the Russian government".

It said it would give priority to the United Nations, global organizations with offices in the United States, and bilateral missions.

Earlier in the day, the USA embassy announced that non-immigrant visa processing would be suspended on Wednesday, August 23.

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

"That is an unplanned effect of the [Russian] decision rather than a political issue", Rodzianko added.

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