Russian-American relations have seen another clamorous diplomatic scandal. The embassy of the USA to Russia didn't issue visas to 10 members of the Russian delegation, who were to accompany Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov on his trip to New York for a session of the UN General Assembly.
The Russian side reacted immediately. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Maria Zakharova, said that that was a vivid example of disrespect on behalf of the USA. Zakharova pointed out that despite statements of the American side that the problem was technical, all documents were submitted in due time and in line with all rules, which means that it is American officials who are to be blamed for the situation.
She also said that "this latest act of disregard for the rights of sovereign states and international organizations" and stated that this incident shows USA's "inability to fulfill its own international law commitments at least somewhat decently." This scandal will be a central topic of conversation between Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Earlier, one of the members of the Russian delegation to the UN General Assembly session who was denied visa, senator Konstantin Kosachev, called the situation "an outrageous act, for which there is no explanation or justification." Kosachev noted that in his opinion such developments would fall short of Russia's assessment and position. "This de facto would mean that the Americans succeeded in imposing their scenario of what is happening at the Assembly these days. The Americans will definitely fail to impose this scenario on us," the senator said.
Another member of the Russian delegation, head of the State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky called the situation involving the non-issuance of US visas "a provocative hitch." He believes members of the Russian delegation will surely ultimately be issued US visas.
Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the Russian president, commented on the non-issuance of American visas to members of the Russian delegation to the UN General Assembly, saying that diplomatic work was underway and that measures were being taken. "As you know, our diplomats are working right now: the American ambassador was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our embassy in Washington is taking measures as well. Work is under way via diplomatic channels," Peskov told journalists, when asked what measures were being taken to tackle the situation.
He added the situation was alarming and such actions on behalf of the USA were unacceptable, as Washington thus breached its international obligations. "This is a direct breach by Washington of its international obligations, because this is not a bilateral visit but a visit of the Russian delegation to the UN General Assembly. America is hosting the UN Headquarters on its territory, and virtually the only thing America has a right to do is, for example, to limit the Russian delegation's stay to just the city of New York. The USA has no right to impose any other restrictions on those going to the General Assembly. Now these rules have been violated. This, naturally, requires a rather harsh reaction on behalf of Moscow, on our behalf. And we are convinced that the UN must show no less harsh reaction, as this situation affect directly the UN and its headquarters," Peskov said.
It turn, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Ryabkov said that Moscow will consider the time and scale of its response to the non-issuance of American visas to members to the Russian delegation to the session of the UN General Assembly. "We will be looking at in what form, when, and on what scale we can respond to this unprecedented and absolutely unacceptable step," the high-ranking Russian diplomat said.
It must be noted that Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy in Moscow Bart Gorman was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the non-issuance of visas to a part of the Russian delegation to the UN General Assembly, Ryabkov said. "Minister counselor, deputy chief of the diplomatic mission to Russia was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today. Protest was expressed to him and he was given a relevant note," Ryabkov said.