Negotiations with the United States on restoring the normal work of embassies after the mass expulsion of diplomats ended in vain, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax.
Consultations with US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who visited Moscow on October 11, according to Ryabkov, were held "openly and quite frankly", but did not bring progress.
"Those subjects - visas, the conditions for the functioning of diplomatic missions, the rotation of diplomatic personnel, the normalization of the activities of Russian foreign missions in the United States and the United States in Russia in general - retain a significant crisis potential. It cannot be ruled out that some further aggravations are possible in these areas," the deputy minister warned.
He added that these risks were "directly" expressed to "American colleagues."
Nuland's meetings with Russian officials were "helpful," U.S. Department of State spokesman Ned Price said at a briefing.
He stressed that the US position on the staffing of American missions in Russia remains firm.
We expect parity in the number of staff and reciprocity with regard to visas. “There must be justice, there must be flexibility on the Russian side if we want to reach a fair agreement, and this is exactly what we are seeking," Price was quoted as saying by Reuters.
He added that negotiations will continue at a lower level, and Washington will continue to seek "an adequately staffed embassy in Moscow."
In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the creation of a list of "unfriendly countries", which will have a limited ability to hire Russian citizens to work in embassies. The list included the United States. As a result of this the U.S. diplomatic mission was forced to reduce its staff by four times and stopped issuing non-immigrant visas to Russians.
Russia has about 400 diplomats in the United States, but most of them are employees of the U.N. mission.
In September, a group of senators appealed to Joe Biden’s administration to expel 300 Russian embassy staff to eliminate diplomatic disparity.
The Russian Foreign Ministry threatened Washington with retaliatory measures up to the complete closure of American foreign missions in Russia.
"They should be aware that the responsibility for this will lie with them," the Kremlin said.