US retaliates against Russia ordering closure of consulate and annexes
The US announced Thursday it will shutter the Russian consulate in San Francisco, as well as annexes in Washington and New York, in response to mandated staff cuts at the US mission in Russia.
The move comes one day before Moscow’s deadline for US personnel to leave their positions and will take effect Saturday.
“The United States has fully implemented the decision by the Government of the Russian Federation to reduce the size of our mission in Russia,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement announcing the decision. “We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries.”
“In the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians,” she continued, “we are requiring the Russian government to close its Consulate General in San Francisco, a chancery annex in Washington, DC, and a consular annex in New York City.”
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “regrets” the US decision, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson phoned Lavrov to inform him of the order, according to a statement from the ministry.
Russia will study the order and respond to Washington, according to the statement.
The move is the latest in a series of escalating diplomatic penalties between the United States and Russia that began in the aftermath of last year’s US presidential election.
In July, the Russian Foreign Ministry ordered the United States cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by nearly half and announced it would seize two US diplomatic properties in response to expanded sanctions passed by Congress.
In late 2016, former President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, and the seizure of two Russian government compounds in response to alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election. At the time, the Kremlin announced it would not retaliate immediately, but rather, consider further action “based on the policies of the Trump administration.”