In an apparent retaliatory move, the US today asked Russia to close down its consulate in San Francisco and the two chancery annexes in Washington and New York in two days. The decision of the Trump Administration comes weeks after Russia forced a cut in US diplomatic staff in Moscow by hundreds. “The US has fully implemented the decision by the Government of the Russian Federation to reduce the size of our mission in Russia. We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said. “In the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians, we are requiring the Russian Government to close its Consulate General in San Francisco, a chancery annex in Washington, D C and a consular annex in New York City. These closures will need to be accomplished by September 2,” Nauert said. With this action both countries will remain with three consulates each, she added.
Russia forced the cut in US diplomatic staff earlier this year in retaliation for American sanctions. The US had to reduce its diplomatic staff by 755 people. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said the US would respond by September. “While there will continue to be a disparity in the number of diplomatic and consular annexes, we have chosen to allow the Russian Government to maintain some of its annexes in an effort to arrest the downward spiral in our relationship,” Nauert said.
“The United States hopes that, having moved toward the Russian Federation’s desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both of our presidents: improved relations between our two countries and increased cooperation on areas of mutual concern,” she said. The US is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted, Nauert warned.