Image by ДИП МИД РФ (фотограф Эдуард Песов)
After Russia forced almost 800 diplomatic personnel to leave Russia in response to the sanctions that the Obama administration placed on Russia for ‘meddling’ in the 2016 U.S. election, the Trump administration drastically cut visa services to Russian citizens until staffing levels are allowed to rise again. This was a severe blow to the average Russian citizen as many have grown used to traveling abroad since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Russian media exploded in rage at the original announcement several weeks ago and the Kremlin was visibly shaken as well as this directly impacted the Russian population in a very negative manner. Social unrest is always a concern for the Russian leadership.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said today to the independent Moscow television station Dozhd, that Moscow would respond to recent sanctions by the U.S. but not to the visa issue, reported The Moscow Times.
“When it comes to [U.S. sanctions] Russia is preparing a response, as deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said,” Zakharova told interviewer Anton Zhelnov. “We are forced to respond.”
However, she said there would be no response to the “horror the Americans had created” with the visa slowdown. “There is not going to be any reaction, because that would be some kind of genocide of ordinary people.”
“Six months after, in an attempt to establish a dialogue, we proposed considering the option of limiting U.S. diplomatic staff to achieve parity [to 455]…And they [the Americans] took that decision themselves.”
The proof is in the pudding however. Russians and Americans in both countries are waiting to see if visas are approved in the same numbers as before for American citizens traveling to Russia.