September 1, 2017

U.S. orders Russia to close Consulate General in San Francisco, plus two diplomatic annexes

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PARSIPPANY, N.J. – The United States has ordered Russia to close its Consulate General in San Francisco and two other diplomatic facilities in the U.S. in retaliation for the expulsion of American diplomats and staff from Russia.

Also ordered closed were a chancery annex in Washington and a consular annex in New York.

The announcement came on August 31 in a press statement released by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.

The statement read:

“The United States has fully implemented the decision by the government of the Russian Federation to reduce the size of our mission in Russia. We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries.

“In the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians, we are requiring the Russian government to close its Consulate General in San Francisco, a chancery annex in Washington, D.C., and a consular annex in New York City. These closures will need to be accomplished by September 2.

“With this action both countries will remain with three consulates each. While there will continue to be a disparity in the number of diplomatic and consular annexes, we have chosen to allow the Russian government to maintain some of its annexes in an effort to arrest the downward spiral in our relationship.

“The United States hopes that, having moved toward the Russian Federation’s desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both of our presidents: improved relations between our two countries and increased cooperation on areas of mutual concern. The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted.”

The New York Times reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov of the move in a telephone call on the morning of August 31.

Russia had demanded earlier in August that the United States reduce its diplomatic staff at the Moscow Embassy and St. Petersburg Consulate by 755 people. That action came in retaliation for sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress.

On August 2, President Donald Trump signed into law the bill on sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which had been passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the House of Representatives (419-3) and the Senate (98-2). The sanctions were meant to punish Russia for meddling in the U.S. presidential election, annexing Crimea and invading Ukraine.

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