Anatoly Antonov, Moscow’s Ambassador to the US, said that Washington had asked 24 Russian diplomats to leave the country by September 3 due to visa expiration.
“We received a list of twenty-four diplomats who are expected to leave the country before September 3, 2021,” Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday citing Antonov as saying to a media outlet.
“Almost all of them will leave without replacements because Washington has abruptly tightened visa issuing procedures.”
Antonov said that “last December the State Department unilaterally established a three-year limit on the assignment period for Russian personnel in the US that, as far as we know, is not applied to any other country”.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price responded on Monday that Antonov’s “characterisation of the situation is not accurate. It’s incorrect”.
“The three-year limit on visa validity for Russians, it’s nothing new. When visas expire these individuals are expected to leave the country or apply for an extension. That is what is at play here,” he told reporters during a daily briefing.
The Russian Ambassador’s comment came two days after the State Department said it had laid off 182 local employees and dozens of contractors at American diplomatic facilities in Russia as requested by Moscow.
Price on Monday denied that the US is using Russian diplomats’ visas to retaliate while saying “we reserve the right to take appropriate response measures to Russia’s actions”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry in April announced a complete ban on US diplomatic missions from hiring citizens of Russia or third countries to administrative and technical posts in response to American sanctions and expulsion of Russian diplomats.