The United States on Thursday ordered Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco within the next two days. It also asked Moscow to shut down its chancery annex in Washington, DC, and a consular annex in New York City before September 2.
The move comes a month after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered 755 American diplomatic staff to leave Russia. The US staff have till Friday to leave the country.
“We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries,” US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said, adding that by closing the Russian consulate in San Francisco, both Washington and Moscow will have three consulates each in the other country. “The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted.”
“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,” Nauert said.
In July, Putin had asked Washington to cut the strength of its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people. The order had come after the US Congress approved new sanctions against Russia, aiming to equalise the number of diplomatic staff in each other’s countries by September 1.