The State Department fears that the work of the US Embassy in Russia, against the backdrop of a reduction in diplomatic personnel, will be reduced only to the performance of technical functions. This was reported on October 27 by Reuters, citing a senior source.
According to him, the diplomatic mission can only provide a presence at the level of the caretaker in Russia. He blamed the deep recession in diplomatic relations between Washington and Moscow as the reason.
According to an unnamed official, the staff of the American embassy in Moscow has dropped from 1,200 in 2017 to 120 as of October 2021.
“We are heading to face a situation in the next year where it will be difficult for us to continue with anything other than maintaining a presence. [на уровне] the caretaker at the embassy, ”the diplomat assured.
On October 24, the US State Department announced that Russians will be able to apply for an American immigration visa in Warsaw. At the same time, the Russians on the agency’s website were identified as Homeless Nationalities – “homeless nations.” Usually, the definition refers to applicants in countries where there is no US consular mission, or to states with an unstable political situation.
On the same day, the press secretary of the American embassy in Moscow, Jason Rebholz, noted that Russians can apply for nonimmigrant visas in any country where there is a US embassy or consulate.
On the same day, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that Washington had turned the procedure for obtaining a visa by citizens of the Russian Federation into a real hell and sadism. According to her, in the State Department “something important has broken down long ago, which cannot be repaired in any way.”
On October 12, it became known that the US and Russian diplomats agreed to hold another round of consultations on the functioning of their diplomatic missions. At the same time, the American side expects to receive from the Russian authorities “parity in the number of personnel”, as well as “reciprocity in the issue of visas.”
In August, it was reported that Russian consulates in the United States are continuing to complete visa processing in full, despite the fact that they are “drained of personnel due to the refusal of the US Department of State to issue visas to new employees to replace those who have completed their business trip.” According to the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, if you do not continue visa processing in full mode, then Russian-American contacts between people will stop altogether.
At the same time, the director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States (Moscow State University), Yuri Rogulev, told Izvestia that the “visa war” between Moscow and Washington began at the initiative of the United States, while the American authorities viewed this as a variant of sanctions pressure. Moscow began to respond to these actions.
As Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov stated, the proposal of the Russian side to nullify restrictions on the activities of Russian and US missions abroad was not heard by the American authorities.
The decision to ban the hiring of non-US citizens to work in American diplomatic missions was made in connection with another round of diplomatic aggravation between Russia and Washington. On April 15, American leader Joe Biden introduced yet another anti-Russian sanctions. In addition, the United States expelled 10 Russian diplomats.
Moscow responded by launching a procedure to end the practice of hiring Russians and third-country nationals by American diplomatic missions in the country. At the same time, the Foreign Ministry indicated that diplomatic missions can continue to work without problems and fill the shortage of American citizens.