US orders Russia to close its San Francisco Consulate

In a move to retaliate against the Russia’s expulsion of U.S diplomats, Trump administration ordered Moscow to close down its San Francisco consulate and scale back its presence in Washington and New York that look after the trade missions.

In response to this situation White house Press secretary Sarah Huckabee said, “We want to halt the downward spiral and we want to move toward better relations, But we’re also going to make sure that we make decisions that are best for our country “.

The State department also confirmed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday about the closures that need to take effect by Saturday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that Moscow “will closely study the new measures announced by the Americans, after which our reaction will be conveyed”.

Apart from the closure of San Francisco consulate which is the oldest Russian consulate in the United States, the Russians are also required to close its official residence in the city. However, no change in ownership title is required.

Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman said the order of closure of consulate bring U.S and Russia into parity, with each having three consulates in each other’s country.

Last month, Russia ordered the United States to cut its diplomatic and technical staff by half, to 455 people. This was after the congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against Russia over allegedly trying to influence US Election and annexation Crimea.

This has further led to suspension of processing of U.S visas in Russia.

The U.S move does not require Russian diplomats to go back instead can be reassigned or stationed in other consulates and post.

This move is certainly going to further complicate the U.S-Russia relations even as the Trump administration was highly hopeful of creating a cooperative environment between both the nations. What is in store for the future of US-Russia cooperation will be interesting to watch.

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