The U.S. government has sent Russia a list of 24 Russian diplomats who must leave the U.S. by September 3 since their visas will be expired. This is what Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told National Interest.
Almost all of them will leave without replacements because Washington has abruptly tightened visa issuing procedures.
It has gotten to the point where the U.S. authorities cancel valid visas of spouses and children of our staff with no reasons provided. The widespread delays in renewing expired visas are also aimed at squeezing Russian diplomatic workers out of the country. As a result, about sixty of my colleagues (130 together with family members) cannot return to their motherland even under urgent humanitarian circumstances.
We have shown restraint for a long time but after another wave of aggressive sanctions by the United States in April we were obliged to take additional steps to equate conditions of work for U.S. missions in Russia, including a prohibition to hire local personnel. It is certain that nobody benefits from such a situation. There is a need for solutions based on the principle of parity. We are convinced that the easiest and fastest way to do it is to completely repeal all the measures and countermeasures which are constraining the activity of diplomats.
Washington does not show a readiness to take such a decision while trying to secure unilateral advantages for the American side. The same is true about the prospects of resuming the work of the Consulates General of Russia in San Francisco and Seattle which were closed by coercion. Even temporary access of maintenance teams to the confiscated premises of the Russian diplomatic property is still denied, which leads to a further deterioration of conditions there.
We hope that common sense will prevail and we will be able to normalize the life of Russian and American diplomats in the United States and Russia on the principle of reciprocity. Our presidents agreed in Geneva to continue consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the State Department with a view to resolve this problem,” he added.