MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Starting from Wednesday, the US embassy in Russia suspended processing of non-migration visas. The diplomatic mission added Moscow's requirement to cut its staff would also affect "the scheduling of a limited number of migration visa applications." Visa processing in Moscow is set to resume in September, while services in other Russian cities will be suspended indefinitely.
"As we understand, the main reason for this decision is not technical difficulties faced by the very well-equipped US consular service, both materially and in terms of resources. The basis is clearly political considerations," Zakharova said at a weekly briefing.
The spokesperson added that the US decision on the visas could be related to the "professional level" of US diplomats.
On Wednesday, US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said that the decision of Washington to pause visa applications for Russians was not meant to be retaliation against Moscow, but was undertaken due to technical reasons caused by staff cuts.
In July, Moscow announced that the diplomatic presence of the United States in Russia would be scaled down by 755 people to 455, the same number of diplomatic personnel Russia has in the United States. The Kremlin said the move was in response to the 2016 expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and sanctions against Russia passed by the US Congress in July.