(WASHINGTON) — The United States is retaliating against Russia by forcing closure of its consulate in San Francisco and scaling back its diplomatic presence in Washington and New York.
The State Department says move is in response to the Kremlin forcing a cut in U.S. diplomatic staff in Moscow. Spokesman Heather Nauert says the move brings the U.S. and Russia into “parity,” with each having three consulates in the other country.
The U.S. says Russian diplomats who work at three diplomatic facilities being closed by the U.S. can be reassigned to other Russian consulates or posts in the United States.
A senior American official says the U.S. has told Russia it isn’t kicking any diplomats out of the country. The official says Russia will continue to own the buildings that house the Russian posts. The official adds that Russia can sell the buildings or otherwise dispose of them. One is leased.
The official says the closures affect Russia’s consulate general in San Francisco and an official residence there. Annexes in New York and Washington that house trade missions also must close by Saturday.
The official briefed reporters on a telephone conference call on condition of anonymity.
Moscow forced the cut in American diplomatic staff earlier this year in retaliation for U.S. sanctions. Washington had to reduce its diplomatic staff by 755 people.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said the U.S. would respond by September.
The Russian offices must close by Saturday. The order affects Russia’s “chancery annex” in Washington and a “consular annex” in New York.