Escalating Cold War 2.0
US relations with Russia are the worst in memory – another hostile act on Monday, US Embassy & Consulates in Russia saying:
“As a result of the Russian government’s personnel cap imposed on the US Mission, all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations across Russia will be suspended beginning August 23, 2017.”
“Visa operations will resume on a greatly reduced scale. Beginning September 1, nonimmigrant visa interviews will be conducted only at the US Embassy in Moscow.”
“NIV interviews at the US Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok are suspended until further notice.”
In response, Sergey Lavrov said “(t)he first impression is the US authors of these decisions have plotted another attempt at stirring up resentment among Russian citizens regarding decisions by the Russian authorities.”
“As for our countermoves…I’ve already said that it is necessary to study in detail the decisions announced by the Americans today.”
“I can only say that we will not take it out on US citizens, that is, if someone hoped that in that case one fool makes many, they were mistaken.”
During a news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Lavrov said he just heard about Washington’s decision.
The move will be closely examined, he explained, stressing how the Obama administration tried undermining Russia/US relations in its final days.
Combined with tough new sanctions enacted “in a Russophobic rage,” prospects for improved bilateral relations are bleak.
Lavrov called Washington’s Monday decision part of “the well-known logic of those who organize color revolutions” – a US specialty, maybe tougher anti-Russia steps to follow.
According to the State Department, Russian nationals must wait 85 days for a US embassy appointment to apply for tourist visas, 53 days for other non-immigrant ones. Students must wait 36 days.
Waiting periods were much shorter earlier. Monday’s action followed Putin ordering Washington’s diplomatic staff in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok reduced to 455 personnel, the same number Russia has in America.
He acted in response to illegal US seizure of Russian diplomatic property in Maryland and New York, along with expulsion of 35 diplomatic staff members last December – followed by imposing harsh new sanctions weeks earlier.
Deplorable US hostility toward Russia keeps worsening bilateral relations. Bipartisan neocon-dictated policies undermine any chance for improvement. The geopolitical agendas of both countries are world’s apart.
Differences remain unreconcilable. Washington bears full responsibility – a deplorable situation risking eventual East/West confrontation.