The Bolshoi's prima ballerina Olga Smirnova and first soloist Jacopo Tissi were due to dance at a Lincoln Center gala in New York City on Monday. The two, however, were denied US non-migrant working visas, according to media reports. The press service of the theater, meanwhile, said that the incident took place because of a technical error.
"For several years exhibition exchanges have been canceled. Now, by refusing to issue visas for a concert tour they want to cut another tie that connected the two nations. Moreover, they are trying to separate Americans from Russians with the help of a visa wall, to make the travels of our nationals to the United States almost impossible. We can only express our regret over such policies of Washington. It is unlikely that ordinary US citizens, who are deprived of communication with Russian culture and friends from Russia, would thank [the authorities]," the ministry's statement read.
The ministry noted that such incidents never took place even during the period of the Cold War.
Relations between Russia and the West in general worsened in 2014 over Moscow's alleged involvement in Ukrainian domestic affairs and Crimea's reunification with Russia. These tensions have significantly escalated in recent months over the Skripal poisoning case and US-led strikes on Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons.
Earlier in April, the United States introduced yet another round of sanctions against Russia over Moscow's alleged global destabilization efforts. Among the individuals and entities affected by the US sanctions were several Russian businessmen and companies controlled by them, as well as a number of high-ranking Russian officials.