Aug. 31 (UPI) — The U.S. State Department announced the closure of Russia’s consulate in San Francisco and other diplomat reductions Thursday in retaliation to similar measures by Moscow.
In addition to the San Francisco closure, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the Trump administration required Russia to shut down some of its operations in Washington, D.C., and New York City by Saturday.
The announcement came one month after Russia ordered a reduction in U.S. diplomatic staff at compounds in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. The move was made to reduce U.S. staff in Russia to 455 in total, approximately the number of Russian diplomatic staff in the United States.
Nauert’s statement said the United States fully implemented the Russian request.
“We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries,” she said, adding that the reciprocal move was made in the “spirit of parity.”
“With this action both countries will remain with three consulates each. While there will continue to be a disparity in the number of diplomatic and consular annexes, we have chosen to allow the Russian government to maintain some of its annexes in an effort to arrest the downward spiral in our relationship.”
Nauert said the United States hopes it could avoid further retaliatory measures by both sides and move toward improving relations between the two countries.
However, “the United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted,” she said.
In December 2016, the Obama administration expelled Kremlin diplomats from the United States and seized two of Moscow’s diplomatic compounds in retaliation for Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. At the time, the Russian foreign ministry recommended that President Vladimir Putin provide a response, but Putin chose to wait in an apparent attempt to build trust with then-incoming President Donald Trump — a move that Trump lauded.