US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017.
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images
By Maya Rhodan
August 21, 2017

The United States said it will limit its visa-issuing operations in Russia going forward, after the Kremlin ordered many U.S. diplomatic staff out of the country by Sept. 1.

Russia called for the removal of hundreds of U.S. personnel after Congress passed a new sanctions bill that President Trump signed, albeit reluctantly. The Kremlin ordered Washington to cut about 60% of its technical and diplomatic staff, some 755 people.

As a result, the U.S. is suspending non-immigrant visa operations starting on Aug. 23, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement. Starting on Sept. 1, the U.S. will only offer non-immigrant visa interviews at the Embassy in Moscow. Interviews at the three U.S. consulates in Russia will be cut, though some services will still be available to American citizens.

On Monday, the U.S. began cancelling all non-immigrant visa appointments across the country. Those impacted will be offered information on how to reschedule.

“Russia’s decision to reduce the United States’ diplomatic presence here calls into question Russia’s seriousness about pursuing better relations,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement. “We will maintain sufficient staff to carry out essential elements of our mission.”

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