Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday, April 23, said Moscow "will not forgive" Washington for denying US visas to Russian journalists meant to accompany him on a visit to United Nations headquarters.

"We won't forget, we will not forgive this," said Lavrov, who is set to chair several UN Security Council meetings in New York.

Russia took up the presidency of the 15-member Security Council in April despite the Ukraine offensive, which Kyiv said was "a slap in the face."

Lavrov denounced a "stupid" failure of the United States to give visas to Russian journalists.

"A country that calls itself the strongest, smartest, freest and fairest, chickened out," Lavrov said.

He added that this "showed the worth of their solemn assurances on freedom of speech."


Since the beginning of the offensive, Moscow has strongly tightened conditions to obtain the accreditations needed to get journalist visas in Russia.

Asked for a response Sunday to Moscow's reaction, the US State Department said it routinely issues visas to Russians for UN events.

It also pointed to longstanding concerns on restrictions on staffing the US embassy in Moscow, which has been down to a skeleton crew since the conflict began.

"The United States takes seriously its obligations as host country of the UN under the UN Headquarters Agreement, including with respect to visa issuance," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.

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Filing Russian visa applications as early as possible "is especially important because of Russia's unwarranted actions against our Embassy in Russia, including the forced termination of local and third country national staff, which have severely limited our staffing and therefore our capacity to process visas," the spokesperson said.

The State Department said it could not discuss specific cases due to US privacy laws.

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 to Russian journalists.


Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned of more retaliatory steps.

"We will find formats to respond to this so that the Americans remember for a long time that such things must not be done," Ryabkov was cited as saying by state-run news agencies.

RIA Novosti also cited a diplomatic source saying that, following the incident, "American journalists will experience all the discomfort and inconvenience."

Last month, US journalist Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Russia and charged with espionage.

The reporter, his employer The Wall Street Journal, and US officials strongly denied the allegations.

Gershkovich, who has also worked for AFP, is the first foreign journalist arrested on spying allegations since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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.

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