(Moscow) Moscow “will not forgive” the United States for refusing to issue visas to Russian journalists accompanying the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, Monday and Tuesday at the UN, the minister said on Sunday before his departure for New York.

“We won’t forget, we won’t forgive,” Lavrov warned reporters, denouncing Washington’s “cowardly” decision.

Russia holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month, in the midst of a military offensive in Ukraine for which it has been banned from world nations.

“A country that calls itself the smartest, the strongest, the freest, the fairest ‘chickened off’ and even did something stupid,” Lavrov lamented, quipping that states United States, by refusing to give visas to Russian journalists, had shown, according to him, “what [their] statements on freedom of expression are worth”.

His Deputy Minister Sergei Ryabkov had earlier indicated on Sunday that despite “contacts on several occasions in recent days” at Moscow’s initiative, Washington “has not issued visas” to “journalists supposed to accompany Mr. Lavrov in his displacement” in the United States.

Mr. Ryabkov castigated “an outrageous and absolutely unacceptable method” on the part of the Americans, denouncing “a mockery” of the United States which, according to him, “pretended to work” to “find a solution”.

“We will find forms of response to this, so that Americans will remember for a long time that this is not done. And they will remember it,” he further warned.

A diplomatic source, quoted by the Russian news agency Ria Novosti, said that in retaliation, “there is no doubt that American journalists [in Russia] will experience all the ‘discomfort and inconvenience’, and a similar attitude” on the part of the Russian authorities.

Since the beginning of the Russian intervention in Ukraine, the conditions for issuing accreditations to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow, on which visas depend, have already been greatly tightened.

This new episode of tensions between Moscow and Washington comes three weeks after the arrest of an American journalist in Russia, Evan Gershkovich, suspected of “espionage” by the Russian authorities, which the United States and the person concerned categorically refute .

Asked about a possible meeting earlier this week between Sergei Lavrov and his American counterpart, Antony Blinken, Mr. Ryabkov said that “that is not part of the plans” at this stage.

Mr. Lavrov’s last visit to the United Nations in New York was last September, during the General Assembly. On Monday, he is to meet with the head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, before chairing a session of debates on the Middle East the next day.