No more non-immigrant visas for Russians anywhere in Russia
On Friday, the US embassy in Moscow announced that it was cutting consular services and reducing its staff by 75 percent.
As part of the cutbacks, the embassy will no longer process non-immigrant visas for Russians. So any Russian citizens that want to travel to the US that aren’t seeking a green card would have to obtain a tourist visa through a third country.
The announcement came after Russia put limits on the amount of staff the US embassy could hire locally, a response to recent US sanctions and the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Russia’s foreign ministry pointed out that the Russian embassy in the US was still issuing visas to American citizens within 10 days despite limits they have had to deal with.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the US move won’t change much since the embassy has not been processing many visas lately. “I think that only a handful of Russian citizens were able to obtain a visa at the US Embassy in Moscow during the last year, or maybe a bit more. These visas were next to impossible to get. So, nothing will change on this score,” he said.
Reduction of Consular Services – Effective May 12, U.S. Embassy Moscow will reduce consular services offered to include only emergency U.S. citizen services and a very limited number of age-out and life or death emergency immigrant visas. These service reductions are necessary due to the Russian government’s April 23 notification of its intention to prohibit U.S. Mission Russia from employing foreign nationals in any capacity. Non-immigrant visa processing for non-diplomatic travel will cease.
Trump – Muslim travel ban.
Biden – Russian travel ban.
Anyhow, as I keep saying, this “social distancing” from the US and the West in general is a good idea. It blunts the impact of bad Western memes and tars their promoters within Russia by association.
Meanwhile, it’s not as if Russians have much to do in the US.
Tourism? You can fly to well nigh anywhere in European Russia from Moscow for $50-$75. Why do Russians need the US when they have this at home?
Business? Trade with the US is something like 5% of Russia’s trade balance. The only “physical” American things I can think off from the top of my head that I use are Tabasco sauce and the garbage disposal unit (pretty exotic in Europe).
Education? So far as 98% of Russians who send their children abroad are concerned, a Western education is needed to signal their social superiority to vatniks, as opposed to human capital accumulation. There are edge cases where this might still be useful (e.g. grad work with specific specialists in some STEM fields), but otherwise, there is no meaningful difference between undergraduate or graduate courses as taught in Russia or the US. Barring voluntary-mandatory extracurriculars on white privilege – but somehow, I think Russians can do without it.
Birth tourism? Something that 1,000 Russians do per year. A drop in the ocean. Inconveniencing the type of people who do this can only be to Russia’s benefit.
That said, this is a significant development on two accounts. First, it means that restrictions on travel will probably ramp up in parallel between Russia and the EU, because Europe follows America’s lead (indeed, former Estonian President Toomas Ilves has suggested as much), and between China and the US, because much of what has been implemented against Russia is also getting copied over with respect to China as the cold war between them ramps up. Such a severing between China and the US will be much more significant, given the much more intensive people flows and economic links between them, than between Russia and the US.
Second, it constitutes an ironic contrast to the situation during the Cold War, when the USSR prevented its people from traveling abroad. Now it does not such thing, and it is, in contrast, the Americans who are now blocking Russians from visiting the US. Ironically, this most inconveniences money pro-American fifth columnists within Russia, not the vatniks who constitute the Putin base.
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