22 August, 2017
The move comes just weeks after the Kremlin ordered the US diplomatic mission in Russian Federation to reduce its staff to a maximum of 455 by September 1.
Earlier this month the Kremlin ordered the USA to slash its diplomatic work-force by almost two-thirds - cutting 755 positions.
In case the United States takes further unilateral steps to cut Russian diplomatic staff, retaliatory measures will follow, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned. However, the necessary drastic reduction in staff is expected to slow down the embassy's work and lead to a reduction in some practical bilateral exchanges.
On Monday Russian officials said that the decision was the result of political wrangling in Washington and presented Moscow as the defender of the rights of ordinary citizens. This was itself a tit-for-tat response to US sanctions brought against Russian Federation for its alleged cyberhacking and military involvements in Ukraine and Syria.
The U.S. will suspend all nonimmigrant visa operations across Russian Federation on Wednesday, its embassy in Moscow said on Monday. In mid-July, the United States announced a new package of sanctions against Russian Federation, which were termed illegitimate and unjustifiable.More news: Donald Trump responds to Barcelona attack with reviving 'Internet rumor'
Earlier Russian citizens could apply for tourist visas in local US consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, but the move ends this practice, forcing applicants to go to the Russian capital. As part of the suspension of non-immigrant visa operations, interviews already set up for Russians' visa applications between Wednesday and the end of the month will be cancelled. Interview schedules are typically backed up by 45 days or more.
It said services would be resumed on Sept 1, but would be offered "on a greatly reduced scale".
"The legitimate rights of our citizens must be defended, so if there are any infringements on our citizens, then mirror measures should also be introduced against the citizens of the United States", Klimov said on Monday, according to Interfax, a Russian news agency.
There has been a diplomatic freeze between Russian Federation and the USA since Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. Russian and western diplomats have noted that the demanded cuts can be achieved at least partly by laying off Russian administrative and technical staff and does not call for the expulsion of hundreds of American diplomats.
Speaking to Russia's state-funded Sputnik radio, the deputy head of the Federation Council's foreign affairs committee, Vladimir Dzhabarov, echoed Pushkov's point.