"This is an unpleasant decision, but not deadly for the Russian diplomacy," said Valdai Club expert Maxim Suchkov, editor of the US edition of Al-Monitor, commenting the situation with the suspension of US visa issuance throughout Russia. The decision comes into effect on August 23, and from September 1 the procedure will be resumed, but only in Moscow.
"Of course, not all the US diplomatic staff was engaged in consular issues and visas, but I think that the US intentionally went to cut down the very part of deals with visa issues in order to complicate the receipt of visas for the Russian citizens," Suchkov said in an interview with www.valdaiclub.com.
This was one of those countermeasures that the Americans warned about, so it did not become a big surprise for the Russian Foreign Ministry. Suchkov stressed that limiting the issuance of visas is not the worst thing that Americans could do in response to Russian countermeasures. "Yes, for some categories of citizens it will be inconvenient: the Americans for sure will delay with the terms of issuing visas, demanding more documents, but, for the sake of justice, it's worth noting that previously they also had not an easy mode of visa procedures", he said.
According to Suchkov, much more serious consequences from the point of view of Russia's response would be the US decision to close another Russian consulate in America. "Now we have more consulates than they have here: we have four, the Americans have three. Closing the Russian consulate would certainly provoke a mirror reaction on our part to reduce the number, and the knot would continue to tighten," Suchkov explained.
Of course, such incidents undermine opportunities for further cooperation. "Each such step creates the impression that we have reached some new bottom. But with each new countermeasure we go down lower and lower, and this brings the relationship into an even more systemic crisis. It will be long before we see the repair process," the expert said.
Suchkov believes that at the moment it is not necessary to wait for the immediate Russian response, since the Americans themselves do not know exactly how the new visa mechanism will be implemented. "We must wait until September 1. Perhaps, the Russian side will take mirror measures," Suchkov suggested.
Speaking about the future development of US-Russian relations, Suchkov suggested that at least until the fall, when Congress comes from the "vacations" and begins experimenting with new legislative initiatives, including against Russia, there will be a pause in the degradation of relations. "And furthermore, I think, it will be even worse," the expert concluded.