Russian Diplomats' Working Conditions in US Continue to Deteriorate, Ambassador Says
03:09 GMT 03.08.2021 (Updated: 04:52 GMT 03.08.2021)
Earlier, the State Department said that the US government expects Russian diplomats in the United States whose visas have expired to leave the country and apply for an extension. According to the Russian ambassador, Moscow has issued 22 visas to US embassy employees. In response, it received only a diplomat visa extension.
The State Department spokesperson has misled journalists about the real state of affairs of the Russian diplomats, Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov told reporters on Monday.
Russian diplomats' working conditions in the United States continue to deteriorate, he said, adding that the attempts to blame Russia for the problem cause bewilderment.
Moscow has repeatedly proposed to Washington to agree on a mutual one-year extension of visas for diplomats, however, Americans are evading the issue, Antonov told Sputnik earlier. Some 130 Russian diplomatic workers and members of their families have their visas expired and are waiting for their extension, he added.
Russian Ambassador said that in recent days Russia issued 22 visas to the staff of the US Embassy in Moscow, but in return received only an extension of a minister counselor's visa.
"Over the past few days, we have issued 22 visas to Americans heading to work at the embassy in Moscow," Antonov said as quoted on the embassy's Facebook page.
"In response, so far, as a mockery, we have received an extension of the visa for a minister counselor," he said.
Anatoly Antonov said that State Department spokesperson Ned Price misled journalists about the real state of affairs regarding the work of Russian diplomats.
Antonov was commenting on Price's statement that the introduction by Russia of a ban for US diplomatic missions to hire Russians and third-country nationals would complicate the working conditions of diplomats from the United States.
"If you listen to Mr. Ned Price, you might get the impression that difficulties in the work of diplomatic missions arose through the fault of Russia and only yesterday," he said.
"We have shown restraint for a very long time, despite the long-term, consistent and deliberate deterioration of the life and working conditions of Russian diplomats in the United States. This includes the seizure of our property and the expulsion of employees, when people were given only 72 hours to leave the country," Antonov told reporters.
He said US attempts to blame Russia for the problem with the diplomats cause bewilderment.
According to Antonov, about 60 employees (with family members - more than 140 people) are currently awaiting a decision on the visa requests submitted to the State Department. For some, the waiting period has lasted since May 2020.
"People cannot leave for their homeland even on urgent humanitarian matters. More than 30 new employees are deprived of the opportunity to enter the country due to the fact that they are not issued visas at the American embassy in Moscow," the ambassador said.
He said the US decision to introduce in December 2020 a three-year limit on the period of stay of Russian diplomats in the country, as well as insistent recommendations for 24 Russian diplomats to leave the United States is the desire of the US government to inflict an additional blow on the Russian diplomatic presence.
Antonov said the way out of this situation could be the resumption of "an equal and mutually respectful dialogue" between Russia and the United States, so that the interests of both states are taken into account.