State Department Hits Back At Russia For Kicking Out US Diplomats

02 September, 2017, 00:25 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • US will force Russia to shut down three consulates as part of 'downward spiral' in relations

The first punishment, handed down by President Obama, forced Russia to move out of two diplomatic compounds in the US and send home 35 Russian diplomats.

The Trump administration on Thursday ordered Russia to close down a consulate in San Francisco in addition to diplomatic annexes in Washington and NY, citing the move as a response to an earlier Russian call for the U.S.to reduce embassy staff in Moscow by 755 State Department employees.

But a diplomatic cable sent to US overseas posts and obtained by The Associated Press said "limited visa services" are resuming Friday.

"The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted", US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Both Nauert and the official having the conference call with reporters stressed that the United States was responding to the Russian "desire for parity" in the diplomatic relationship.

Ms Nauert said Washington still hoped both countries could now move toward "improved relations" and "increased cooperation".

Moscow took that step, with which Washington must comply starting on September 1, to equalize the number of diplomats the United States and Russia maintain in each other's countries after a USA reduction in Russian personnel late previous year.

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The San Francisco Fire Department says acrid, black smoke seen pouring from a chimney at the Russian consulate in San Francisco was apparently from a fire burning in a fireplace.

In a surprise move the U.S. State Dept. has just ordered Russian Federation to close its consulate in San Francisco, and to reduce the number of staff members in two other locations, and saying the closures must be completed by Saturday.

But President Donald Trump made it clear he is hoping for better days, telling reporters at the White House this past Monday, "I think it's a good thing if we have great relationships, or at least good relationships, with Russian Federation".

The closures, which must take place by Saturday, are part of what appears to be an escalating diplomatic struggle between the US and Russian Federation. The two are expected to meet at the UN General Assembly in NY next month.

The decision was conveyed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who according to Russian foreign ministry "expressed regret over the decision".

Anatoly Antonov flew into Washington on Thursday, hours after the State Department's announcement of the closure.

But after the US Congress approved new economic sanctions against Moscow over its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, Putin ordered drastic cuts in US staff in retaliation.

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