MOSCOW – Under orders from the Kremlin, the US embassy has stopped employing Russians, leading the embassy to cut its consular staff by 75% and limit many of its services.
The order went into effect from Wednesday, causing a sharp personal-level deterioration of US-Russia relations.
Due to the deduction, the embassy can only offer very limited services, such as considering “life and death” visa applications. He leaves Russian merchants, exchanging students and romantic partners because they will not be able to obtain visas. Even Americans will be unable to register their newborns or renew their passports.
For Anastasia Kuznetsova, a 20-year-old married to a Californian, it is a crushing blow. She had already spent about two years for a fiancee visa. The labor process, notorious for Russians seeking US visas, had already been slowed down by COVID-19.
“I felt destroyed, a lot more depressed than before,” said Kuznetsova, who last met her fiancé on a trip to Mexico in January. “We don’t know when it will continue to work and will we be able to see each other during these years as well.”
Thomas Hwy Anthony, an American living in Russia, was already frustrated by the delay in recording the child’s claim for US citizenship to record the birth of his daughter.
“I expected that as the situation would improve with the epidemic, gradually the consulate would open up more and more,” he said. “It was a big shock to suddenly receive an email about two weeks ago, stating effective on the 11th that we will no longer offer any consular services.”
For Anthony, this means that his daughter, who was born before the epidemic, would not be able to travel to the United States to visit her grandparents in the future.
The embassy has not made a statement on whether it is taking measures to beef up consular staff with new employees from the United States.
Embassy spokespersons could not reach out to clarify how the mission would handle other tasks filled by locals such as security.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the ban of local employees is in line with the convention.
“We rarely appoint a local worker in the country where we have a diplomatic mission. And thus we have full right to transfer this practice to the rules that manage the work of the US embassy and their general consulates in the Russian Federation, “he said last month.
University student Yulia Kukula, who was accepted for a PhD program in sustainable energy at Arizona State University, must have found a laborious and expensive way around the problem of getting her visa to enroll in university.
After searching online for advice from others in her position, Kukula was able to sign up for an interview for a visa at the US Consulate in neighboring Kazakhstan. But it is a 2,300-kilometer (1,400 mile) journey from Moscow, and the interview is not due until October.
The United States once had three other consulates in Russia – in Yekaterinburg, Vladivostok and St. Petersburg – which somewhat reduced the burden of travel for people obtaining visas. But those consulates have stopped or stopped granting visas between diplomatic Jats in recent years, with Alexis Rodzianko, head of the US Chamber of Commerce in Russia, calling the “visa war”.
Earlier in his chamber, companies were burdened with companies whose officers needed to travel. “Now it seems that it is impossible for an uncertain future,” he said.
He said that epidemic travel restrictions have shown that videoconferencing cannot completely replace personal travel to business travel.
“They are especially good for people who already know each other and they are much less effective for people who know each other,” he said.
They also see a major problem if the visa stay period is prolonged.
He worries that because the US and Russian governments are hostile, the lack of contacts between people on both sides can lead to “dehumanization”, “which is very dangerous because that’s what you need to fight a war.”
Kuznetsova, who was expected to celebrate her marriage in the United States this year and also left her university in Russia in preparation for the move, is mired as a small piece in a major geopolitical dispute .
“I understand that there can be problems between countries, it is normal, it has happened throughout history, but it is not normal to divide and separate people, especially when it is the life of family and people,” she said. .