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12 May, 2021 12:58

American Embassy in Moscow puts halt on issuing travel & business visas to Russians, amid growing row over expulsion of diplomats

American Embassy in Moscow puts halt on issuing travel & business visas to Russians, amid growing row over expulsion of diplomats

An effective ban on issuing most types of travel visas for Russians wanting to visit the US has come into force, with Washington's envoys blaming mutual expulsions of staff and new rules preventing them from hiring local citizens.

Beginning on Wednesday, the US Embassy in Moscow will slash the number of services it offers both to Russians and to its own citizens. Applications for visas, including from those wanting to travel to see family or for work, will no longer be processed. Only a "very limited" number of legacy and "life-or-death" visas will be offered.

Consular assistance is also being slashed and the mission "will not offer routine notarial services, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, or renewal passport services for the foreseeable future," a statement issued at the end of April explains.

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"Provision of emergency services to US citizens in Russia may also be delayed or limited due to staff's constrained ability to travel outside of Moscow," the missive went on, alluding to an ongoing renegotiation of diplomats' terms of stay in the capital.

Russia is in the process of expelling ten of Washington's representatives in a tit-for-tat move after President Joe Biden ordered the same number of Moscow's diplomats to leave the US.

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The axing of consular support, the Americans say, is due to a 75% reduction in capacity ordered by the host country. Last month, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the US would be included on a list of "unfriendly" states that will be banned from hiring locals or citizens from third countries as assistants.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, one of Moscow's top envoys at the United Nations in New York, told RT at the time the changes were announced that, while he was concerned about the state of bilateral relations, a number of "countries clearly showed to us that they have no intention to develop bilateral relations with Russia on a goodwill basis."

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