MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The United States' decision to restrict issuing US visas for Russian citizens might hint at Washington's disapproval of contacts between Russians and US citizens, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.
"If the contacts with holders of Russian passports are so toxic, so much so that they are intolerable, [US authorities] should just simply say so. Possibly, this approach is reflected in the decision of the US diplomatic mission and the State Department to restrict the possibility of Russian passport holders to get US visas," Ryabkov told Chinese and Japanese media outlets in an interview.On Monday, the US embassy in Russia announced that non-migration visa processing would be suspended from August 23. The embassy said Moscow's requirement to cut its staff to 455 diplomats would also affect "the scheduling of a limited number of migration visa applications." Visa processing in Moscow is set to resume in September, while services in other Russian cities will be suspended indefinitely.
In late July, Moscow announced that the diplomatic presence of the United States in Russia would be cut by 755 people to 455, the same number of diplomatic personnel that Russia currently has in the United States. The Kremlin said it was a response to the 2016 expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and sanctions passed by the US Congress in July.