Russian diplomats who have worked in the United States for three years must either leave the country or apply for a visa extension. Each such request will be considered on an individual basis, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
Earlier, the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov said that the US authorities had handed over a list of 24 diplomats who must leave the country by September 3 due to expiring visas. The Russian ambassador also noted that about 130 employees of Russian diplomatic missions in the United States and their family members are waiting for visa extensions. Still, Washington, according to him, is conducting a practice of squeezing out Russian diplomats.
Price did not agree with the way Antonov described the situation. He added that the State Department recently introduced a work limit in the United States for all foreign diplomats, but for most countries it is five years with the possibility of extension on individual requests.
Deterioration of the working conditions of Russian diplomats in the United States
In recent years, the working conditions of Russian diplomats in the United States have been constantly deteriorating. As Antonov noted, Moscow was completely deprived of its consular presence on the West Coast of America, where tens of thousands of Russians live. In addition, mass expulsions of Russian diplomats regularly occur. Washington has also sharply tightened the procedure for issuing visas.
As Antonov stated, Moscow offered Washington to reset mutual restrictions on the work of diplomatic missions, but the American side refuses.
“We proceed from the expediency to reset the existing restrictions on the activities of each other’s foreign institutions on a mutual basis. It would seem that what could be easier? Unfortunately, there is no light at the end of the tunnel,” the ambassador explained.
According to him, the State Department is not even ready to discuss the possibility of completely abandoning all the measures and countermeasures introduced, insisting on a phased approach, which as a result boils down to the fact that priority attention is paid to American problems.
Reduction of the staff of the US embassy and consulates in Russia
Starting from August 1, the United States must bring the composition of its embassies and consulates in Russia in line with the new requirements, according to which Washington is prohibited from hiring Russians and citizens of third countries.
The American ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, previously said that the number of diplomatic missions in Russia would be reduced to 120 people because of these measures. Therefore they will not be able to provide consular services in full.
Russia has demanded that the United States not hire Russian citizens to work due to the next sanctions that Washington imposed in April. As the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out, the US sanctions course does not meet the interests of the peoples of the two countries.