Russian Embassy Claims Washington Started Visa War

It was the United States who started a ‘visa war’ with Russia and imposed the practice of personal visa exchanges, the Russian embassy in Washington said on its Facebook page, commenting on U.S. media reports about problems that U.S. diplomatic missions are facing in Russia, TASS reports.

“We would like to remind once again that the responsibility for this ‘stalemate’ lies entirely with the American side. It was the United States that became the initiator of the so-called “visa war”, imposing the practice of personal visa exchanges, when employees of Russian foreign missions receive entry permits only in conjunction with the issuance of visas for American staff,” the embassy said.

The Russian diplomatic mission said it had taken note of the article published in the Friday electronic version of The Washington Post, “in which, referring to sources in the U.S. State Department, the authors once again mislead their readers and seek to place all the blame for problems related to consular and visa matters on the Russian side.”

“The information contained in the article does not correspond to the real state of affairs,” the Russian embassy said.

“There were no refusals to issue visas to diplomats and other specialists employed by the U.S. missions. We don’t have any advantages here. We act strictly on the basis of reciprocity. The number of visas we issue to American officials corresponds to the number of visas received by Russian employees in the United States,” Russian diplomats said.

According to the statement, Russia has repeatedly called on Washington “to fully normalize our relations in terms of consular and visa issues.”

“There is no need to put your brand on the wrong steer. The ball is on the American side,” the Russian embassy said.

According to a Washington Post article, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow “is understaffed and overstretched,” and, therefore, senior diplomats have to do basic tasks like shoveling snow and handling disinfectants.

Besides, the paper reported that the U.S. administration’s decision to close the U.S. consulate in the Far Eastern Russian city of Vladivostok and to suspend the work of the consulate in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg were a result of visa issues and not linked to politics.

Former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul criticized the policy of the incumbent administration. “This is a self-inflicted wound,” he said, commenting on the consulate closures. “Russia is not kicking us out. We are unilaterally deciding we don’t want be there. It’s a giant mistake. I hope [U.S. president-elect Joseph] Biden reverses it.”