Trump administration retaliates against Russian Federation, forces closure of U.S. posts


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday to inform him the U.S. complied with Moscow's demand that the American diplomatic presence in Russia be reduced.

The sanctions were imposed following Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and to punish Russia further for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The U.S. on Thursday ordered Russian Federation to shutter its consulate in San Francisco and two other buildings in NY and Washington, the latest move in a back-and-forth series of retaliations for Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said the US would respond by September.

A spokeswoman for the ministry, Maria Zakharova, said the search, which the United States has not confirmed, would "create a direct threat to the security of Russian citizens".

Russia's new Ambassador to the United States Anatoly I. Antonov was greeted by the news of the US ordering closing down of Russian Consulate in San Francisco.

The State Department announced Thursday that the consulate, along with a facility in New York City and one in Washington, D.C., must be shuttered by September 2. She said the two annexes ordered closed in Washington and NY were primarily trade missions. "But, as you know, it takes two to tango and so far we've been seeing our USA partners perform an individual break dance time and time again".

The U.S. had to reduce its diplomatic staff by 755 people.

Relations between Washington and Moscow have become more tense since the Russian decision to reduce the United States diplomatic presence in Russia.

Last month, Congress passed additional sanctions against Russian Federation.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Russian diplomatic facilities in San Francisco, D.C. and NY must be closed by September 2.

The State Department said the move was in response to "unwarranted" action by Russian Federation.

No Russian diplomats are being expelled, and the diplomats assigned to San Francisco can be re-assigned to other posts in the United States, the official said.

Both countries now maintain three consulates on each other's territory and ostensibly similar numbers of diplomats.

Those sanctions were imposed as punishment for what USA intelligence agencies concluded was Moscow's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as Russia's annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.