In the latest episode of the ongoing feud between Russia and the United States, Moscow has accused Washington of denying visas to journalists who intended to cover the trip of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to New York.
Lavrov, who was scheduled to appear at the United Nations to commemorate Russia‘s chairmanship of the Security Council, has vowed that Moscow will take strong retaliatory measures.
The US State Department has not yet responded to the allegations of refused visas, but the move has already drawn the ire of Russian authorities.
Lavrov criticised the United States, stating that the country that “claims to be the strongest, smartest and freest nation has chickened out and done something stupid” by denying visas to journalists.
“This move shows what its sworn assurances about protecting freedom of speech and access to information are really worth,” Lavrov said before leaving Moscow on Sunday, adding that Russia will “will not forget and will not forgive” the US over the gesture.
The Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, echoed Lavrov’s sentiments and pledged that Moscow would find ways to respond to the US action.
“Be sure that we will not forget and will not forgive. I insist that we will find ways to respond to this, so that the Americans will remember for a long time not to do this,” Ryabkov said.
“Americans resorted to another outrageous, absolutely unacceptable trick during the preparations for Russian Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov’s participation in events marking Russia’s presidency of the UN Security Council, which is coming to an end … the Americans pretended that they were working and that a solution would soon be found.”
The visa dispute has exacerbated the already high tensions between Russia and the United States over the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. Russia accuses Gershkovich of espionage and has declared him to be “wrongfully detained,” a charge that the United States denies.
The situation has led many Western journalists stationed in Moscow to leave the country after Russia sent troops into Ukraine.
Currently, Russia requires foreign journalists to renew their visas and accreditation every three months, compared to once a year before the fighting began.
Russia’s UN mission joined Lavrov in condemning Washington, saying on Twitter that “the United States violated again its obligations” under the UN headquarters agreement by denying visas.
RIA Novosti also cited a diplomatic source saying that, following the incident, “American journalists will experience all the discomfort and inconvenience” in Russia.
The diplomatic source cited by RIA Novosti said the incident over visas proved Washington’s “imaginary concern” for Gershkovich.
“Otherwise, they would not treat Russian journalists like this,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the United States will host a meeting in Germany on Friday to discuss further support for Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelensky pushed Western allies to send more fighter jets and long-range missiles.
Representatives from around 50 countries will gather at the US Ramstein Air Base to coordinate their backing for Kyiv, as battles with Russia rage in the east of the country.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who will attend the meeting, was in the Ukrainian capital on Thursday — his first visit since the start of Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
Zelensky took the opportunity to press NATO to invite Kyiv to join the alliance and ramp up military support for Ukraine’s army, as blood continues to be spilt in the now 14-month conflict.
The raid involved eight drones, all of which have been neutralized, Russia’s Ministry of Defense has said