MOSCOW, August 4. /TASS/. The time period for issuing US visas for Russian citizens has increased significantly in recent months in a move intended to exert more pressure on Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokeswoman has said in a Rossiya 1 TV channel broadcast.
"Funny enough, the time period for issuing a US visa has increased several times in the past 4-5 months. Previously, the visa interview took place approximately ten days after all documents have been submitted. Now, visa interviews begin after about a month and a half," Maria Zakharova said.
The spokeswoman added that attempts to explain the longer time period for issuing a US visa by Russia’s move to cut the permitted number of US diplomats on its territory were made as a result of "domestic political struggle" in the United States.
"We understand perfectly well that this is a kind of intimidation, a kind of pressure being put on the Russian side," Zakharova said.
On July 28, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Washington should equal the number of its diplomatic and technical staff working in the US Embassy in Moscow and in consulates general in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok to the exact number of the Russian diplomats and technical staff working in the US in response to the bill on new ant-Russian sanctions adopted by the US Congress. This means that the total number of staff working in the US diplomatic and consulate entities in Russia will be reduced to 455 people. In case the American authorities take new unilateral actions to reduce the number of Russian diplomats in the US, it will be responded in kind, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned.
In an interview with VGTRK TV host Vladimir Solovyev, President Vladimir Putin specified that 755 American diplomats had to leave Russia.
In addition, Russia has suspended the use by the US embassy of all warehouse facilities on Dorozhnaya St, Moscow, and a compound in Silver Forest since August 1. Access to these facilities was closed at 12:00 Moscow time on Tuesday.