Russia ‘ready’ to issue visas to US Embassy staff – Diplomat

Moscow ready to issue visas to new US embassy staff, senior Russian diplomat noted Thursday, after the Russian Ambassador to Washington denounced the strict visa issuance procedures for Russian employees.

Alexander Bikantov, deputy foreign ministry spokesman, said Russia was “open to dialogue” despite what he described as Washington’s “non-constructive approach”.

“We are ready to take into account American concerns, in particular to quickly issue visas to new employees of the American diplomatic mission in Moscow,” Bikantov said, quoted by the official RIA Novosti news agency.

His comments came after the United States and Russia clashed on the staff of their respective embassies this week.

Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov lamented what he called “persistent and creative” three-year limits on diplomatic visas for Russian nationals.

State Department spokesman Ned Price called Antonov’s comments “inaccurate,” saying diplomats were free to ask for extensions.

But Price also reiterated US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s complaint over the weekend that Russia forced the United States to lay off nearly 200 local employees of US diplomatic missions in the country over a new hiring ban.