United States orders closure of Russian consulate

Geneva Matthews
September 4, 2017

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova also announced on Friday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was planning to search the general consulate premises, including homes of diplomatic staff, which would violate diplomatic immunity.

US President Donald Trump personally took the decision to close the Russian Federation Consulate in San Francisco and the diplomatic buildings in Washington and NY.

Zakharova said in a statement Friday, "American special services intend on September 2 to carry out a search of the consulate in San Francisco including of the apartments of employees who live in the building and have [diplomatic] immunity".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russia's foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov about the punishment in a phone call Thursday and sought to reassure him that the U.S.is not trying to ratchet up tension.

With the Russian diplomatic closures in the USA, the State Department said both countries will be left with three consulates each.

Now, more than half a year into Trump's term, the State Department says relations between the two countries are in a "downward spiral" - but adds that, in the interest of arresting that slide, it will not be pursuing true parity in diplomatic sites.

The US issued its order on Thursday and gave Russian Federation 48 hours to comply, intensifying tensions between the two countries. The order affects offices in Washington and NY.

Moreover, the spokesman for the Russian embassy in Washington, Nikolay Lakhonin, told reporters that the trade mission staff in the USA capital were blocked from accessing the building as of 14:00 local time on Saturday.

The decision was in retaliation for Russian President Vladimir Putin kicking out more than 700 US diplomats - after Trump, reluctantly, signed a sanctions law passed by Congress.

"They sought to rupture Russian-US relations and prevent US President Donald Trump from putting forward any constructive proposals", the Russian top diplomat stressed.

Russia's Foreign Ministry in August ordered the US embassy to reduce its diplomatic presence to 455 diplomats and staff by September 1, after the US Congress approved new sanctions against Russian Federation.

Russia's top diplomat insisted Friday that Moscow wasn't interested in quarreling amid an escalating series of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions - accusing the USA of "performing a solo breakdance". That action was taken following harassment of US diplomats in Russia, as well as Russian interference in the USA presidential election.

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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