Published: Fri, September 01, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

U.S. orders Russian Federation to close 3 diplomatic buildings

U.S. orders Russian Federation to close 3 diplomatic buildings

The U.S.is closing three Russian diplomatic properties in America in response to Russia's order that the U.S. cut its diplomatic staff in its country, the State Department announced Thursday, in a major deterioration of the relationship between the two countries.

The newly arrived Russian ambassador to the United States has invoked Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin in saying Moscow will carefully consider its response to the order to close its consulate in San Francisco and scale back operations in Washington and NY.

Now, more than half a year into Trump's term, the State Department says relations between the two countries are in a "downward spiral" - but adds that, in the interest of arresting that slide, it will not be pursuing true parity in diplomatic sites. Though Russia can keep its NY consulate and Washington embassy, Russian trade missions housed in satellite offices in those two cities must shut down, said a senior Trump administration official.

"I think history will dispel these untruths in due time and America will begin to turn towards greater normalcy in relations with Russia", Kislyak said in an interview with Russian outlet TASS shortly before his departure.

The move is the latest in a series of escalating diplomatic penalties between the United States and Russian Federation that began in the aftermath of last year's USA presidential election. It wasn't immediately clear whether the Kremlin would return the volley by retaliating for the USA retaliation. The US had to reduce its diplomatic staff by 755 people. The Russian Consulate General in San Francisco will officially close its doors for visitors on September 1, and will continue issuing ready passports until Friday afternoon, the consulate said on its website on Thursday.

The sanctions were imposed in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and to punish Russia further for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Trump criticised the decision from the lawmakers, but signed the bill into law.

The State Department said the decision was made "in the spirit of parity", after Moscow in July ordered a dramatic reduction of USA diplomatic staff in Russian Federation.

Visa operations at United States consulates will remain suspended indefinitely. Both countries now maintain three consulates on each other's territory and ostensibly have similar numbers of diplomats posted, though such numbers are hard to independently verify.

On July 27, Congress approved a new sanctions bill targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Moscow forced the cut in American diplomatic staff earlier this year in retaliation for USA sanctions.

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