United States tells Russian Federation to close its San Francisco consulate, annexes

Trump Hopes for Better Relations between US & Russia

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 USA in NY and Washington, according to the U.S. official. The RBK news site cited sources saying that at least 600 are Russian.

As the State Department scrambled to comply with the order, it suspended visa issuance throughout the USA mission to Russian Federation until September 1, the deadline given to complete the staff reductions. "We should act calmly and professionally", Antonov told RIA-Novosti.

"We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries", she added, noting that, with the closures ordered, "both countries will remain with three consulates each". Nauert said today the US had met that "unwarranted and detrimental" requirement but did not provide details of which staff members were cut or where.

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Russia's expulsion of USA diplomats in July was in response to an Obama administration closure of Russian diplomatic facilities in the US last December. "Speaking like Lenin, we don't need hysterical impulses", citing a Lenin maxim.

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". The consular annexes to be closed in NY and Washington contain Russian trade missions, the official said.

"In the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians", the State Department's spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in a statement, the United States would require Russia to close the three offices by Saturday.

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"I think history will dispel these untruths in due time and America will begin to turn towards greater normalcy in relations with Russia", Kislyak said in an interview with Russian outlet TASS shortly before his departure. It wasn't immediately clear whether the Kremlin would return the volley by retaliating for the USA retaliation.

Thursday's announcement by the State Department came as Russia's new ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, arrived in the U.S. capital to take up his post, Russian news agencies reported. Both countries now maintain three consulates on each other's territory and ostensibly have similar numbers of diplomats posted, though such numbers are hard to independently verify.

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