Diplomatic spat latest chapter in Russia-US tensions

The U.S. State Department has ordered Russian Federation to shutter its consulate general in San Francisco as well as an annex building in New York City and one in Washington, D.C.

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 USA in NY and Washington, according to the U.S. official.

Indeed, the tit for tat of diplomatic downsizing could be traced to a year ago, when President Obama in the waning days of his administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two of the country's compounds in the U.S. At the time, it appeared Putin might actually hold his return fire, saying he would wait to see how Trump would handle matters.

Another report this week described exchanges between Cohen and a form Trump business associate in which the associate said he would solicit Russian President Vladimir Putin to help with a proposed real estate deal he claimed would help Trump win the White House. "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informing Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a phone call today".

Realizing that the approval of the new package of sanctions was inevitable, Putin fired back even before Trump signed the measure.

Russia is promising to answer a Trump administration order to close three Russian diplomatic offices in the United States.

Repeatedly throughout the visit, he has called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, long the focus of global diplomacy but now under threat.

The closing of the Russian diplomatic posts is an act of "impudence" which Moscow should retaliate for, said Andrei Klimov, the deputy head of the foreign affairs committee of the upper house of parliament, according to state news service RIA Novosti. She said along with it, the U.S. did not demand that the Russian staff employed at these legations be sent off home.

Donald Trump won the presidential election in November and is now under investigation about possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian government. Noting the current state of relations, Moscow has appointed a hawkish new ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, known as a hardliner and a tough negotiator with a deep suspicion of the United States.

The State Department warned that the U.S.is ready to take further action "as necessary and as warranted", but voiced hope that Moscow and Washington could now move toward "improved relations" and "increased cooperation".

December 2016 Then came Obama's decision to add sanctions over Russia's alleged role in meddling in the US presidential election previous year. He told Tillerson that Moscow would "closely study" the new USA measures and would inform Washington of its reaction in due course.

  • Jon Douglas