Russia says US has blocked visa approvals for senior diplomats, banning access to UN forum

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharov said Friday that Russian diplomats were unable to attend a United Nations forum in New York after the United States denied them visas.

“The United States refused to issue US entry visas to the head of the Russian delegation and head of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs Igor Barinov, an official of the Russian Foreign Ministry, and to a number of representatives of small indigenous peoples in the north of the Russian Federation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a Telegram post, adding that the group had planned to visit the United States on April 24.

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FILE - Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova gestures as she attends Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's annual press conference in Moscow, Russia, Friday, January 17 2020.
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FILE – Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova gestures as she attends Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s annual press conference in Moscow, Russia, Friday, January 17 2020.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

The State Department would not comment on Russia’s accusations and a spokesperson told Fox News, “Visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss details of individual visa cases”.

The Friday forum, which was held from April 25 to May 6, aimed to help indigenous peoples in the field of “economic and social development, culture, environment, education, health and human rights” – which could be an indicator of why Russia was denied access.

The United States was a major contributor of assistance to Ukraine after Russia’s deadly February 24 invasion.

The United States and its NATO allies have repeatedly called on Moscow to end its deadly invasion and Washington has pledged to continue supporting Ukraine and its Eastern European allies in the face of the Russian aggression.

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A dog is seen in the middle of a street as Ukrainian army soldiers take part in a military search for possible remnants of Russian troops after they withdrew from villages on the outskirts of kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday 1st April 2022.

A dog is seen in the middle of a street as Ukrainian army soldiers take part in a military search for possible remnants of Russian troops after they withdrew from villages on the outskirts of kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday 1st April 2022.
(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In March, the United States, along with 140 other nations, voted with the United Nations General Assembly to pass a landmark resolution condemning the invasion and demanding an immediate withdrawal.

Washington then joined 92 other nations last month in voting to suspend Russia’s membership of the UN Human Rights Council.

President Biden has spoken out condemning Russia as a “pariah” in the international sphere and called for Moscow to be banned from major international conventions like the G20 summit scheduled for November.

The United States sanctioned several senior Russian authorities following its invasion, but it is unclear whether any of the officials who were denied US visas were among those officials.

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WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 28: United States President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a Black History Month celebration event in the East Room of the White House on February 28, 2022 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 28: United States President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a Black History Month celebration event in the East Room of the White House on February 28, 2022 in Washington, DC.
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the United States of committing a “serious violation” of its commitment to the UN and threatened that there would be consequences.

“The obvious purpose of this decision is to escalate the confrontation with Russia at all costs by blocking any possibility of Russia’s large-scale representation and work on the UN site,” the ministry said. “This aggressive attitude will certainly receive a response.”

It is unclear whether Russia participated in the conference virtually.

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