The U.S. does not seem to be rushing to welcome Russian diplomats ahead of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly this month.
Fifty-six visas that the Kremlin requested to allow Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his delegation to travel to New York City for the UN gathering have not been provided by the U.S., Reuters reported Friday. The session is scheduled to start Sept. 13, with high-level General Assembly meetings beginning a week later.
Reuters reported that Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, said in a letter to the body’s Secretary General António Guterres that the U.S. has been “constantly refusing to grant entry visas” to Russian delegates in recent months.
The cold shoulder from the U.S. comes with Washington-Moscow relations all but frozen following Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine.
America has been further frustrated by Russia’s unwillingness to return Brittney Griner, the U.S. basketball star arrested in the winter over hashish oil cartridges spied in her luggage at a Moscow-area airport.
The U.S. offered a prisoner swap that would release Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer held by America, in exchange for Griner and Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who was jailed in Russia in 2018. But the deal has not been realized.
The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a Daily News request for comment on the visa friction.
But Reuters reported that a spokesperson for the department said “Russia’s unwarranted actions against our embassy in Russia, including the forced termination of local and third country national staff” have strained America’s “capacity to process visas.”