State Department Orders Russia to Shutter San Francisco Consulate

Russia Clarifies Trump Connection

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday ordered Russia to close three buildings in the United States in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to expel hundreds of US diplomats from his country.

In addition to the San Francisco consulate, the State Department decision affects the residence for the consul-general in the California city as well as two buildings that housed Russia's trade mission to the U.S. in NY and Washington, according to the USA official.

The move comes in response to the Kremlin's decision last July to order the US to reduce by 755 the number of diplomats and diplomatic personnel working at the US Embassy in Moscow and at its consulates in St. Petersburg and other cities.

Nauert said the USA wants to avoid additional retaliatory measures by either side and work toward improving bilateral relations, but "the United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted". The Russians will still own the property, and they can choose to keep them or sell them.

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.

Nauert, however, warned "the United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted". The two annexes housed Russian trade missions. The agency is careful to note that while both now have three consulates each, Russian Federation will continue to have more diplomatic and consular annexes in the USA than Americans have in Russian Federation.

This decision by the U.S.is not irreversible, however.

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On Thursday, the U.S. demanded from the Russian government to close three diplomatic offices in the USA substantiating this by an alleged bid to restore diplomatic parity.

The forced closures were the latest in an intensifying exchange of diplomatic broadsides with origins in Washington's opposition to Russia's actions in Ukraine and its interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The Russian offices must close by Saturday.

The senior administration official who briefed reporters Thursday confirmed that the United States has fully complied with Russia's staff reduction order, and that visa processing - which was temporarily halted after the initial announcement - will resume shortly at a "much-reduced rate".

As of Thursday, the US has complied with the order to reduce to 455, officials said.

Trump signed that bill on August 2.

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