MOSCOW, November 1. /TASS/. US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has pledged to do everything to promote people to people ties between the two countries despite difficulties surrounding the issuance of US visas to Russians. The ambassador’s video address has been published on the embassy's social media accounts.
"I can assure you this: people to people ties and people to people connections for me will be extremely important going forward," Huntsman said in response to a question by one of Russian internet users. "And we will do everything we can within the current resources that are available to ensure that we promote that to the best of our abilities," he added.
The US ambassador also said that to him, "the people to people aspect of the US-Russia relationship is among the most important." "And in order to achieve a people to people kind of relationship, you have to of course make sure that people are properly credentialed, that they have visas to travel. That’s the way that we make the connections. It’s an important part of what we do here at the embassy," the ambassador pointed out.
According to Huntsman, he is "very disheartened by the decision taken by the Russian government to cut the number of people here on our embassy staff." "And that means, the work that we used to do in the consular section that would process a lot of the paperwork for travel and for visas despite our best efforts simply cannot get done," he said, adding that "it’s not the people aren’t working hard enough, they’re working their very hardest." "It’s simply that we just don’t have the numbers that we used to have," the US ambassador to Russia noted.
Following Moscow’s proposal that the US diplomatic staff in Russia be reduced, the US embassy suspended nonimmigrant visa operations across Russia. On September 1, visa operations resumed, but only in Moscow. Nonimmigrant visa interviews at the US consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok remain suspended.