Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to France on May 29, 2017. ETIENNE LAURENT AFP

The US embassy in Russia said on Monday it would suspend visa issuance for non-migrants in Moscow for eight days and that it will stop issuing these documents at its consulates in the rest of the country in response to Russia’s decision to limit staff of its diplomatic headquarters.

In a statement, the embassy said it had taken the decision after the Russian Foreign Ministry ordered it to limit US diplomatic personnel in the country.

The diplomatic headquarters said it would resume issuing visas in Moscow on September 1 but would stop issuing them at its consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

Russia this month ordered the United States to reduce its embassy staff to 755 people, or two-thirds, aggravating tensions between Washington and Moscow after the US Congress approved sanctions against Russia for interfering in the US elections of 2016 And its activity in Ukraine and Syria.

President Putin said earlier this month that Moscow had felt compelled to take reciprocal action on the new package of measures for what it called “unfounded accusations,” although it said it would avoid further retaliation against Washington.

The vast majority of more than 1,000 employees in various US diplomatic missions in Russia, including the embassy in Moscow and the three consulates, are local employees.

The US embassy said Monday that Russia’s decision to cut its staff “cast doubt on Russia’s seriousness about seeking better relations.” However, he insisted that he could maintain an adequate BALANCE “to continue the essential elements of our mission.”

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