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MOSCOW, August 31. /TASS/. Moscow has offered Washington various options to overcome the situation with the anti-Russian sanctions before suggesting that it should cut down the number of its employees at the American diplomatic mission in Russia, Russian Foreign Ministry’s Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
"We’ve been offering various ways of out this situation to the United States for many months, more than half a year," she said.
"We gave half a year to the American side, and this wasn’t silent provision of opportunities, but constant attempts to involve [the US] in a dialogue. There were a few rounds of corresponding expert talks on how to overcome this situation," the diplomat added.
In late December 2016, then-Barack Obama administration introduced sanctions against Russia, declaring 35 employees of the Russian Embassy in Washington and Consulate General in San Francisco persona non grata and closing two Russian diplomatic compounds in the states of New York and Maryland. All Russian staff was banned from entering these facilities.
In late Jule, the US Congress approved a bill tightening unilateral sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea. The document, in particular, legalized anti-Russian measures taken by the previous US administration headed by then-President Barack Obama on the basis of his orders.
On July 28, following voting on anti-Russian sanctions in the Congress, the Russian Foreign Ministry suggested Washington should equal the number of its diplomatic and support staff working in the US Embassy in Moscow and in Consulates General in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok to the exact number of Russian diplomats and support staff working in the US before September 1. This means that the total number of the American diplomatic staff in Russia will be reduced to 455 people.
On August 21, the US Embassy to Russia declared it would suspend non-immigrant visa issuance to Russian citizens starting from August 23. Visa issuance will be renewed on September 1, but only for Moscow. Consulates General in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok will not issue visas.