The Trump administration ordered Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco and two annexes in New York and Washington, D.C., on Thursday in retaliation to the country’s expulsion of United States diplomats.
“In the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians,” the State Department’s spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in a statement, Russia will have to close the three offices by Sept. 2. “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 move comes in response to Russia’s July order for the American embassy in Moscow to cut its staff by 755 people by this Friday. Russian President Vladimir Putin made the decision after Congress and the president placed financial sanctions on Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its support for rebels in Ukraine.
The State Department did not indicate how many employees would be affected by the closings, but the administration is not going to expel any Russian personnel from the U.S. President Trump initially expressed thanks towards Russia when first asked about the order to reduce American embassy staff in Moscow.
“I want to thank him, because we’re trying to cut down the payroll,” he said at the time. “And as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go a lot of a large number of people, because now we have a smaller payroll.”