The White House has ordered Russia to close a consulate and two annexes in response to Moscow’s order to reduce by 750 the number of American diplomats in the U.S. mission there.
“We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement released Thursday.
“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.
“With this action both countries will remain with three consulates each. 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.”
The U.S. said it is hoping for improved relations between the two countries and increased cooperation “on areas of mutual concern.”
But Russia did not react well to the move, even though no Russian personnel are being expelled, and those who work in the closed facilities are allowed to be reassigned to other diplomatic or consular locations within the U.S., according to The Hill.
“Of course, we cannot afford to leave unfriendly, and sometimes hostile steps towards us without retaliation,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
The State Department said Washington is “prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted.”
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 Russia. I believe someday that will happen.”