In response to Russia’s reduction of personnel at U.S. missions in Moscow earlier this year, the United States urged the Kremlin to close three of its diplomatic offices on U.S. territory. Washington wants Russia to close one of its consulates and two annexes in San Francisco and New York and Washington, respectively, by Sept. 2.
Russia’s Diplomatic Reprisal was ‘Unwarranted.’
The announcement is part of an ongoing diplomatic dispute between the two countries triggered by the latest U.S. sanctions against Russia. In July, the Russians ordered the United States to trim its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 staffers to match the number of Russian diplomats in the country.
Russia retaliated against Congress’ decision to sanction it for the alleged interference in the U.S. election last year. Russia had been already sanctioned by the Obama administration for its invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the State Department deemed Russia’s diplomatic reprisal “unwarranted” and “detrimental” to the relations between the two nations. The agency announced that the U.S. had complied with Russia’s request for a personnel reduction.
The State Department added that the order to shut down the three diplomatic facilities was given “in the spirit of parity” invoked by Moscow. The San Francisco consulate and the other two offices must close doors by Sept. 2.
Tillerson to Further Discuss the Issue with Moscow
According to Reuters, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson briefed the Russian government on the closures on Thursday. Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced they plan to meet to further discuss the issue at the U.N. General Assembly later this month.
Moscow expressed regret about the Trump administration’s move during the discussion with the U.S. State Secretary. The Kremlin pledged to analyze the decision and convey a “reaction.”
The two countries have been engaged in a string of retaliatory measures long before Trump took office. Experts estimate the measures soured the U.S.-Russian relationships to a new post-Cold War low. So, Cold War part II?
Image Source: Kremlin