State Department orders closure of Russian consulate in San Francisco

The State Department is demanding the nearly immediate closure of three Russian diplomatic facilities in San Francisco Washington and New York

The State Department is demanding the nearly immediate closure of three Russian diplomatic facilities in San Francisco Washington and New York

Following continued tensions, the Putin government in Russian Federation had ordered immediate eviction of 755 U.S. diplomats in July.

After Trump signed the sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a cut of about 60 per cent of us diplomatic staff in Russia by September 1. Those sanctions on Russia's mining and oil industry, which President Trump signed despite reservations, were in turn a reprisal for Moscow's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

He spoke less than 24 hours after the U.S. State Department set a September 2 deadline for the closure of the Russian consulate in San Francisco and two other diplomatic buildings in Washington and NY used as trade representations. "These closures will need to be accomplished by September 2", Nauert said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said his country will "respond harshly to things that will damage us" after the U.S. ordered fresh sanctions.

Smoke was seen pouring from the chimney of the Russian consulate in San Francisco on Friday. Russian representatives are also denied access to the rented premises of the Trade Representation in NY.

An administration official told reporters in a background briefing that "for a variety of reasons" the consulate in San Francisco had been selected for closure. Last December, the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two diplomatic compounds in the US, a move described as retaliation for Moscow's interference in the 2016 USA presidential elections. The U.S. now operates consulates in the Russian cities of Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok, in addition to the embassy in Moscow.

The diplomatic retaliations stem from US sanctions of Russia over its annexation of Crimea, as well as Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The Trump administration order is the latest example of deteriorating relations between the USA and Russian Federation.

"We believe (Russia's) action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries", State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the U.S. had made its reciprocal move in the "spirit of parity", Efe news reported. A State Department official said they would have "sufficient time" to pack their things and move out.

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