© AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez

WASHINGTON, August 24. /TASS/. The United States argued that it had not taken measures in response to the reduction of personnel involved in the American diplomatic and consular offices in Russia. The head of the press service of the Department of state Heather Nauert tried Wednesday at a regular briefing for journalists to present the case as if the suspension of the procedures for the issuance of nonimmigrant visas is not a reprisal.

“Let me state clearly that the United States had not taken any retaliatory measures against Russia, this is not happening. Unfortunately, we were forced to reduce the size of our mission in Russia, our staff in Russia, including the Consulate General, she said, Recalling that these institutions make decisions about issuing visas . – Since we had to reduce the number of staff, which considers issues related to visas, we had to suspend the acceptance of applications from the Russians, who now want to come to the United States.” According to Nauert, “Russian media went crazy reporting that the United States took retaliatory measures against Russia.”

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“We have fewer people involved in issuing visas, she said. – First and foremost the work of our officials at the consulates is to care about the citizens of the United States. They help them with documents, driving license and others. Americans come first when it comes to issuing visas.”

The representative of the foreign Ministry again called the Russian government’s decision to reduce diplomatic personnel is deplorable. “Russia knew they had to expect that this will happen, because they know what the staff at the consulates”, – concluded Nauert.

August 21, the U.S. Embassy in Russia announced the suspension from August 23 the issuance of nonimmigrant visas to Russians. This procedure will resume September 1, but only in Moscow. At the consulates General in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, the results will not be made.

The Russian foreign Ministry after a vote in Congress on anti-Russian sanctions proposed by Washington, until September 1, the number of diplomatic and technical staff working at the American Embassy in Moscow and consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, in strict compliance with a number of Russian diplomats and technicians, who are in the USA. This means that the total number of staff employed in the American diplomatic and consular offices in Russia, is reduced to 455. President Vladimir Putin in an interview with leading VGTRK Vladimir Putin said that Russia needs to exit 755 of diplomats and technical staff of diplomatic missions of the United States.