White House Orders Closure of Russian Consulate, 2 Annexes in US

The State Department is demanding the nearly immediate closure of three Russian diplomatic facilities in San Francisco Washington and New York

In a statement, Nauert said the State Department had complied with Russia's demand to reduce the size of USA diplomatic mission in Russia and now made its own demand "in the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians".

On August 31, the United States authorities demanded Moscow close its consulate general in San Francisco, trade mission in Washington and its office in NY by September 2.

The closure by Sept 2 of the consulate and buildings in Washington and NY that house Russian trade missions is the latest in tit-for-tat actions by the two countries that have helped push relations to a new post-Cold War low.

The U.S. Department of State, in a statement by Heather Nauert, Spokesperson for the Department on Thursday, said the move was to achieve parity in diplomatic missions.

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The department denied the accusations by the Russian government, including that U.S. officials threatened to break down doors. On Saturday night, lights shined brightly on several floors of the consulate in San Francisco and some windows were wide open.

There was no immediate reaction from the Russian government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed regret during a phone call with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson about Washington's decision, his ministry said.

'With this action both countries will remain with three consulates each.

But Moscow is calling the search an "unprecedented aggressive action", and Russia's foreign ministry says it has lodged a formal protest with the USA deputy chief of mission in Moscow.

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A senior State Department official said US officials and Russian embassy personnel were conducting walk-throughs of the properties on Saturday to ensure they were vacated and to "secure and protect the facilities".

The U.S. had temporarily suspended non-immigrant visa processing in Russian Federation after Moscow ordered it to cut its diplomatic staff to 455. "No Russian diplomats are being expelled from the U.S. in connection with these closures", the official said.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov invoked a dancing metaphor on Friday to describe Russia's view on its bilateral relations with the U.S. "We've taken these steps in that measure and in that spirit". The order affects offices in Washington and NY.

Donald Trump won the presidential election in November and is under investigation about possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.

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