OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The turmoil between Russia and the United States is intensifying.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova announced over the weekend that the U.S. has been placed on a list of countries Russia considers to be “unfriendly.”
In a graphic on Russia’s Channel 1 headlined “List of countries unfriendly to Russia,” the U.S. was at the top.
Newsweek reported that in recent days, Moscow has been expelling diplomats from the U.S. embassy after the Biden administration’s sanctions on Russia for the SolarWinds hacks of government agencies and election interference, both of which the Kremlin denies responsibility for. Now, the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia has released a statement asking its citizens to leave Russia by June 15.
U.S.-based companies will also no longer be able to hire any Russian contractors.
America will also no longer issue any new visas to Russia starting May 12 and will not extend and currently expiring visas.
Below is the full press release from the U.S.:
Reduction of Consular Services – Effective May 12, U.S. Embassy Moscow will reduce consular services offered to include only emergency U.S. citizen services and a very limited number of age-out and life or death emergency immigrant visas. These service reductions are necessary due to the Russian government’s April 23 notification of its intention to prohibit U.S. Mission Russia from employing foreign nationals in any capacity. Non-immigrant visa processing for non-diplomatic travel will cease.
Embassy Moscow will not offer routine notarial services, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, or renewal passport services for the foreseeable future. If you are resident in Russia and require a new U.S. passport to remain legally present, or if you require an emergency U.S. passport for a demonstrable, life or death emergency (booking travel with an expired U.S. passport does not qualify) please send an email to [email protected] and we will work to accommodate your request. Provision of emergency services to U.S. citizens in Russia may also be delayed or limited due to staff’s constrained ability to travel outside of Moscow.
If you are a U.S. citizen present in Russia and your visa has expired, we strongly urge you to depart Russia before the June 15 deadline set by the Russian government. If you plan to remain in Russia past this deadline, please visit your local Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) office to start the necessary paperwork as recently suggested by MVD. Embassy Moscow is unable to answer any specific questions about Russian residency or Russian visas, as this process is managed entirely by the Russian government.
We regret that the actions of the Russian government have forced us to reduce our consular workforce by 75%, and will endeavor to offer to U.S. citizens as many services as possible. Thank you.
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Things have gotten so bad that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that relations with the United States are now even worse than during Cold War times because of a lack of mutual respect.
Lavrov said if the U.S. shuns a mutually respectful dialogue on the basis of a balance of interests, “we would live in conditions of a Cold War or worse.”
“During the Cold War, the tensions were flying high, and risky crisis situations often emerged, but there was also a mutual respect,” Lavrov said in a Russian state television interview. “It seems to me there is a deficit of it now.”