The Trump administration ordered Russia to close diplomatic offices in San Francisco, New York and Washington in retaliation for Moscow throwing U.S. diplomats out of Russia, the State Department announced Thursday.
The State Department said the move was made “in the spirit of parity” as the tit-for-tat diplomatic penalties escalated over Russia’s interference in the U.S. elections.
Russia was ordered to close a consulate in San Francisco and trade mission offices in New York and Washington. The offices must be vacated by Saturday.
Last month, Moscow ordered the U.S. to bring home half its diplomatic and technical staff, roughly 450 people, in retaliation for Congress passing new sanctions against Russia.“We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.She described the U.S. response as being “in the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians.”
The Obama administration began the actions by closing two Russian compounds shortly after the November election as a penalty for Moscow’s interference.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at first declined to respond in kind, as the change of administration presented an opportunity for better relations. But after Congress passed the new sanctions bill and President Trump signed it, Moscow ousted the U.S. diplomats.
“Moscow will closely study the new measures announced by the Americans, after which our reaction will be conveyed,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, applauded the Trump administration.
“This is a good move by the administration and, after the last eight years, long overdue,” he said. “I applaud the president for making this decision, and I encourage the administration to build on it by doing more to crack down on Russian diplomats’ flagrant violations of travel rules and procedures.”