Trump Administration Just Booted More Russian Diplomats From the US

Posted September 01, 2017

Spokesman Heather Nauert says the move brings the US and Russian Federation into "parity", with each having three consulates in the other country.

Washington, Sep 1 (IANS) Russia has been given two days to close its consulate in San Francisco as well as diplomatic annexes in Washington and NY, the US State Department has said. 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.

No Russian diplomats working at the missions are being formally expelled by the US, and those employees can continue their work at other Russian facilities in the country.

The State Department's decision to close Russian diplomatic locations in the U.S.is at odds with the message President Donald Trump sent after Russia expelled the USA diplomats.

In addition to its consulate, the Russians by Saturday must close an official residence in San Francisco. The New York and Washington, D.C. annexes serve as trade missions, according to one senior administration official.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday expressed "regret at the escalation of tensions in bilateral relations".

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The tit-for-tat response iillustrates the deterioration in relations between Washington and Moscow in the seven months since President Donald Trump came to office promising to improve ties with Russian Federation. The pair will meet in September in NY.

But after the US Congress approved new economic sanctions against Moscow over its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, Putin ordered drastic cuts in US staff in retaliation.

The U.S. isn't expelling any Russian officials, so those who work at the shuttered offices can be reassigned elsewhere in the U.S., the official said.

The ministry says Tillerson called to tell his Russian counterpart about the US move.

"We waited for quite a long time that, perhaps, something will change for the better, we held out hope that the situation would somehow change", Mr. Putin said in an interview on state-run Rossiya 1 television, which published a Russian-language transcript on its website.

Thursday's announcement by the State Department came as Russia's new ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, arrived in the U.S. capital to take up his post, Russian news agencies reported.