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USA shutters Russia's San Francisco consulate in retaliation

USA shutters Russia's San Francisco consulate in retaliation

USA shutters Russia's San Francisco consulate in retaliation

The State Department announced Thursday that the consulate, along with a facility in New York City and one in Washington, D.C., must be shuttered by September 2.

In July, Moscow ordered the United States to slash 755 of its own staff in Russian Federation, in response to last December's decision to expel 35 diplomats and seize two diplomatic compounds, which Russian Federation maintains was a violation of USA and worldwide law.

In a statement Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called that action "unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries". The Russians will still own the property, and they can choose to keep them or sell them.

At the start of Donald Trump's presidency in January, the Republican leader said he hoped for improved relations with Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation. The two will also meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in NY in September, the official confirmed.

But the State Department warned: "The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted".

On Thursday, the U.S. demanded from the Russian government to close three diplomatic offices in the USA substantiating this by an alleged bid to restore diplomatic parity.

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The administration said there was no decision on whether the Russian government would be allowed to take back those facilities.

Citgo has a large presence in the United States and represents roughly five percent of USA crude-oil refining capacity, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The forced closures were the latest in an intensifying exchange of diplomatic broadsides with origins in Washington's opposition to Russia's actions in Ukraine and its interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Kremlin quickly retaliated, announcing the USA must cut its own embassy and consulate staff down to 455.

Thursday's announcement by the State Department came as Russia's new ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, arrived in the USA capital to take up his post, Russian news agencies reported.

The U.S. ambassador to Moscow and Nauert have both said that was the result of the staff cuts and not meant as a retaliation, but Russian officials have accused the U.S. of trying to punish their citizens. Earlier, the US had said it would start processing visas only at the embassy in Moscow, meaning Russians could no longer apply for visas at the USA consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

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