The Russian Consulate in San Francisco, as well as two annex buildings in Washington and New York, will have to close by September 2, the US State Department announced in response to Moscow ordering the US to reduce its diplomatic personnel in Russia.
“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,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on Thursday.
Stating that the measure comes “in the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians,” the US State Department said that now both countries will have three consulates each.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday warned that Moscow may retaliate against a U.S. order closing the Russian consulate in San Francisco but then appeared to extend an olive branch to President Donald Trump, saying the Kremlin was still eager to take him up on his pre-election promises to improve relations.
“Naturally, we will respond toughly to these things that bring us harm absolutely out of nowhere,” Lavrov told students during a televised address at a Moscow university.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin is “not looking for a fight” and instead wants to pursue Trump’s pledges for better relations, Lavrov added.
“All this story with the exchange of sanctions was undertaken not by us, but by the Obama administration precisely with this goal to undermine Russian-American relations,” Lavrov said.
The decision was made by President Donald Trump personally, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in Washington on Thursday afternoon.
“We want to halt the downward spiral and we want to move forward towards better relations, we look for opportunities to do that, but we also want to have equity in the decisions… We’re also going to make sure that we make decisions that are best for our country,” Sanders told reporters.— Agencies