Russian ambassador accuses U.K. of denying visas to shrink embassy

By Daniel Uria  |  Oct. 22, 2016 at 12:34 PM
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LONDON, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Russia's U.K. ambassador accused the British government of shrinking its embassy by denying visas to staff.

Alexander Yakovenko said Russia lacked diplomatic staff in the London embassy as staff members left the country and visas were not given to their replacements, according to the BBC.

"The embassy is shrinking and if it continues the embassy will be reduced further. People cannot be replaced because the visas are not being issued," he said. "I hope this problem will be resolved under present government."

Yakovenko went on to question whether the U.K. government desired "an adequate Russian diplomatic presence" in the embassy.

"Here in London, we simply do not understand the strategy of this country on visa issues," he said.

The U.K. foreign office said it had no policy to delay visas to members of the Russian embassy.

"We have made clear to the Russians that the queues need to be cleared on both sides, and they have agreed to work with us on this," the embassy said, according to Financial Times.

Yakovenko also accused Britain's prime minister and foreign secretary of using "anti-Russian statements" in regards to Russia's actions in Syria and the Ukraine.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told Members of Parliament that Russia could become a "pariah nation" due to its involvement in bombing the Syrian city of Aleppo. Prime Minister Theresa May urged European leaders to send a "robust united message" to the Russian government about the bombings.

When asked if Russia would in turn deny visas for British Embassy staff, Yakovenko said, "Never do to others what you don't want them to do to you."

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