Russia Received No Official Information About Number of US Diplomats in Country

© Sputnik / Evgenya Novozhenina / Go to the photo bankBriefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova
Briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova - Sputnik International
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Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said that Washington has not officially informed Russia about the particular number of US diplomatic personnel currently working in Russia.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Washington has not officially informed Russia about the particular number of US diplomatic personnel currently working in Russia, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said Tuesday.

"We have not heard from our US colleagues any official statements about the exact or approximate number of employees of the US diplomatic and consulate mission on the territory of Russia," Zakharova wrote on Facebook.

Zakharova also criticized linking the US visa issuing terms to the number of the diplomatic personnel working in Russia.

"There is no defense for linking visas to the reduction in the number of [US diplomatic] staff. Because the US [personnel] were not expelled, no one dictated or pointed out who must be sent home and who must stay. So if Washington decides to reduce the number of people involved in visa matters, this will be the decision of Washington, sovereign, deliberate and not forced," Zakharova explained.

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The diplomat noted the differences in the US and Russian approaches to processing visa applications.

"The US procedure requires carrying out of the personal interview and of course, this requires more time and labor resources," Zakharova pointed out.

The Russian visas for the US citizens are issued without holding an interview, while all the required documents can be sent via mail, Zakharova added.

"I am not going to prove that our way is better and their [way] is worse. It is not for me to decide. But one thing is true. The way [of visa applications processing] used by the US authorities is much more labor-consuming. But it is not Russia’s fault!" Zakharova pointed out.

Last Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry offered Washington to reduce the number of the US diplomatic and technical staff working in the country to 455 by September 1. According to the ministry, this number is commensurate with the number of Russian diplomats in the United States. Also, the Foreign Ministry announced the suspension of two US diplomatic missions’ properties in Russia as of August 1.

On Monday, the US Embassy in Russia said it did not rule out that the reduction of the US diplomatic staff could lead to a slowdown of consular activities in Russia.

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