Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed Anatoly Antonov to replace Sergey Kislyak as Russia’s ambassador to the United States following visa row.
The move comes as the U.S. embassy in Moscow announced it is suspending all non-immigrant visa processing for Russians until September 1 in response to the staff cuts ordered by the Kremlin, The Sun reports.
In a statement on its site, the embassy said operations for all visas applications in Moscow will resume after September 1 but will remain suspended indefinitely at the three U.S. consulates elsewhere in the country.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded to the announcement today during a press conference, saying, “I think a political factor is obvious to everyone here.”
On July 28 Russia ordered the U.S. embassy to cut its staff by 755 in retaliation for the U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow by Congress. The State Department hasn’t confirmed the numbers, but it’s believed that the embassy employs around 1,300 people; however, only around 400 employees are American.
U.S. officials have said the cuts would fall primarily on Russian local hires and that this would almost certainly affect visa operations at the embassy.