The State Department on Thursday announced that the U.S. government is requiring Russia to close three diplomatic missions on American soil.
Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement that the Russian government must close a consulate in San Francisco and two separate annexes in New York City and Washington, D.C.
“The United States has fully implemented the decision by the Government of the Russian Federation to reduce the size of our mission in Russia,” she said.
“We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries,” Nauert added, referencing Russia ordering the U.S. in July to reduce its total diplomatic personnel there.
“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.”
Nauert also said that Thursday’s move would leave both Russia and the U.S. with three consulates within the other’s borders.
“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,” she said.
“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,” Nauert added. “The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted.”
President Trump has repeatedly voiced openness to improving U.S.-Russia ties in tandem with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin in July ordered the U.S. to reduce the number of diplomatic personnel in Russia by 755 people.
The move was in response to economic sanctions placed on Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election in the U.S.
Special counsel Robert Mueller and several congressional committees are probing Russia’s intrusions in last year’s White House race.
Trump has frequently called the investigations, which include possible collusion between Russia and his election campaign, a “witch hunt” against him and his administration.