The Russian foreign ministry has announced that Russia’s state airline Aeroflot may halt direct flights to the United States, saying Russian pilots are being increasingly blocked from getting US visas.
At the moment, Aeroflot, which flies a regular route between Moscow (SVO) and New York (JFK), is the only carrier offering regular direct service between the two countries.
Over the last months, several rounds of consulate closures and expulsions of diplomats have taken place – the latest being reciprocal expulsions of 60 diplomats and closure of 1 consulate each between Russia and the US in March.
Since then, the US State Department has effectively imposed a “blockade” on US visas issued to Russians, says Moscow.
Here’s the breaking report from RT:
Direct flight connections between Russia and the US could come to a complete halt, due to Washington’s ongoing “visa blockade” policy against Russian citizens, the Foreign Ministry has said.
“We cannot rule out that the two countries could be left without [direct] air transportation. Aeroflot, which is the only company to operate regular flights between Russia and the US, might be forced to halt them, as its pilots are facing mounting difficulties with American visas,” the ministry said in a statement.
Last year, the US extended the visa waiting time to 85 days, and recently upped it to 250 days, making applying for a visa “effectively pointless.” A consular staff shortage, which Washington has cited as the reason for delays, is not the real reason behind the “blockade,” the ministry said.
“Washington has imposed the visa blockade consciously, as an another way to put pressure [on Moscow]. They are deliberately targeting Russian citizens due to Russia’s independent international politics, jeopardizing trips for business, cultural, scientific, and simply family and [visits of a] friendly nature, en masse,” the statement reads.
“The US authorities seem to be afraid that visiting Russians will open the eyes of common Americans on the absurdity of the anti-Russian propaganda which they purvey, and therefore purposefully disrupt contact between peoples.”