Russia closed its embassy in Georgia and halted consular operations after Georgia severed diplomatic ties following last month's war, the Russian consul said Wednesday.
A U.S. Navy ship loaded with humanitarian aid, meanwhile, steamed through the Dardanelles on its way to Georgia — a day after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin complained that too many NATO ships were sailing the Black Sea and promised a Russian response.
The diplomatic suspension means no new applications for Russian entry visas will be accepted, a blow to Georgians who have relatives in Russia or other ties there. Hundreds of thousands of Georgians live in Russia, and many ethnic Georgians in Russia are Russian citizens.
"A break-off of diplomatic ties is an action that has a price," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in Moscow. He said the ministry is considering other measures.
The diplomatic break follows a five-day war and Moscow's recognition of two separatist Georgia regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as independent nations. The conflict has brought tensions between Moscow and the West to their highest level since the end of the Soviet Union.
The United States has already sent two military ships bearing aid to Georgia, and the USS Mount Whitney steamed through the Dardanelles early Wednesday and was expected to pass through the Bosporus later in the day. The two Turkish-controlled straits link the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, the AP reports.
Wednesday's diplomatic suspension means no new applications for Russian entry visas will be accepted, a blow to Georgians who have relatives in Russia or other ties there. Hundreds of thousands of Georgians live in Russia, and many ethnic Georgians in Russia are Russian citizens.
Existing visa applications will be processed, Vasilyev said. Without visas, Georgians cannot travel to Russia unless they have dual citizenship, CBC News reports.
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