US Order Closing of a Russian consulate

Photo by ANDREW GOMBERT/EPA/REX/Shutterstock (8928780b) A Russian diplomatic compound, seized by the United States in December 2016 in connection with suspected Russian hacking activities sits abandoned in Upper Brookville, New York USA, 10 July 2017.

The United States is requiring Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco and two annex buildings in Washington, D.C. and New York City, the State Department said on Thursday.

This is considered to be a response to the Kremlin’s decision to shrink the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia. Those sanctions are officially due to kick in September 1st, although American diplomats have already left Moscow.

Last month Moscow ordered the United States to cut its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia by more than half, to 455 people, after Congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against Russia.

“We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on 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,” Nauert said. “These closures will need to be accomplished by September 2.”

The United States and Russian Federation are in the worst diplomatic relations since the Cold War, experts believe. Cooperation between two super powers deteriorated from the crisis in Ukraine and continued with Russian intervention in Syria helping the forces of president Bashar Al Assad. US Administration under Barrack Obama opposed Assad staying in power, while current President Donald Trump stayed less clear about his plans for Syria.

Latest American sanctions against Russia came with a bipartisan support in the US Congress, with the measures passing in the Senate with 98 votes for and two against. Trump criticised the decision from the lawmakers, but signed the bill into law. Sanctions included measures against few businessmen and banks connected to the Kremlin. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the new batch of sanctions made efforts to improve relations between two states very difficult.

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