The US flag flutters in the wind at the US Embassy in Moscow, Russia, on April 16, 2021. (EVGENY SINITSYN / XINHUA)
MOSCOW – The US embassy in Russia announced on Friday a significant reduction of consular services, citing Moscow's limit on the mission's work force.
US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow last week for consultations on the bilateral ties in Washington
The US Embassy in Russia will reduce consular services offered to include only emergency US citizen services, and a very limited number of age-out and life or death emergency immigrant visas from May 12, the embassy said in a statement.
"Non-immigrant visa processing for non-diplomatic travel will cease," it added.
The embassy said these service reductions are necessary due to the Russian government's intention to prohibit the US mission from employing foreign nationals in any capacity.
In addition, the embassy "strongly urges" US citizens in Russia with an expired visa to leave the country before June 15.
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"We regret that the actions of the Russian government have forced us to reduce our consular work force by 75 percent," it said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry unveiled a slew of retaliatory measures on April 16 against recent US sanctions, including a complete ban on US diplomatic missions from hiring citizens of Russia or third countries, to administrative or technical posts.
US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow last week for consultations on the bilateral ties in Washington.