US Closes Russia's Consulate in San Francisco, Compounds in NYC, Washington

In July, the Russian Foreign Ministry ordered the United States cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by almost half and announced it would seize two U.S. diplomatic properties in response to expanded sanctions passed by Congress.

In addition to the San Francisco consulate, the State Department decision affects the residence for the consul-general in the California city as well as two buildings that housed Russia's trade mission to the U.S. in NY and Washington, according to the USA official.

But, in a statement, the Russian foreign ministry said Lavrov "expressed regret at the escalation of tension in bilateral relations", and said the Russian government would study the move before deciding how to respond.

Nauert said the USA wants to avoid additional retaliatory measures by either side and work toward improving bilateral relations, but "the United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted". While the diplomatic facilities are being closed, a senior administration official says the United States is not expelling any diplomats and those individuals can be reassigned by Russian Federation. The East Coast properties housed Russian trade missions, the State Department said. The RBK news site cited sources saying that at least 600 are Russian.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said the U.S. would respond by September. "But by all indications, if it does change, it won't be soon".

Nauert said the US was prepared to take additional actions "as warranted". That demand, made at the end of July, had a September 1 deadline.

The Trump administration on Thursday retaliated against Russian Federation for expelling hundreds of US diplomats, announcing it is requiring Russian Federation to close several posts in major American cities.

Visa operations at USA consulates will remain suspended indefinitely.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, of the tit-for-tat move in a phone call Thursday morning. "We should act calmly and professionally", Antonov told RIA-Novosti.

Antonov's predecessor Sergei Kislyak is one of the figures at the center of the scandal over alleged Russian meddling in the November election in a bid to help tilt the contest in Trump's favor over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

However, the United States retains the right to take additional moves against Russia, Nauert warned.

"This was a decision made by the President", she said.

  • Jon Douglas