April 20, 2018 / 1:32 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Kremlin: U.S. is making it hard for Aeroflot crews to get visas

(Adds Kremlin quotes, comment from Aeroflot, context)

MOSCOW, April 20 (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Friday that the United States was deliberately making it difficult for Aeroflot crews to obtain U.S. visas and that it was concerned by the situation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the hold-ups appeared deliberate because it was “obvious there are no objective reasons for the Americans to have difficulties with visa activity here”.

“Of course we are concerned and would not like this development of events,” Peskov said.

The United States has imposed a series of punitive measures on Russia including expelling dozens of Russian diplomats over a poisoning case in Britain. Moscow responded by expelling 60 U.S. diplomats.

The head of the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow told Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper on Thursday that it was having difficulties issuing urgent visas to pilots because of a shortage of staff.

Aeroflot told Reuters it had appealed to the Russian Foreign and Transport Ministries for assistance because its crews were not being issued visas.

“We think there are currently enough people with visas to maintain flights for several months,” an Aeroflot spokesperson said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it could not rule out the possibility that flights between Russia and the United States might have to be stopped. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Dmitry Antonov Editing by Alison Williams)

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