Officials say they aren't expelling any Russian diplomats, but that the move is retaliation for Russia recently expelling USA diplomats, ignoring that the expulsions were themselves retaliation for the United States seizing a pair of vacation properties from Russia.
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".
Speaking to students at Russia's top diplomacy school on Friday Lavrov said Moscow "will have a tough response to the things that come totally out of the blue to hurt us and are driven exclusively by the desire to spoil our relations with the United States". Visa processing was due to resume at the Moscow embassy on Friday but at a reduced pace - and it will remain suspended at the USA consulates in three other Russian cities.
Nauert warned that the USA could have gone further, in pursuit of "parity" in diplomatic staffing levels, but chose not to in order to avoid a "downward spiral" in the relationship. The US staff have till Friday to leave the country.
Lavrov defended Russia's decision to cut USA diplomatic staff as reciprocal reaction to the US expelling Russian diplomats last December. Additionally, the United States will not force Russia to reduce the size of its staff in the country and will allow them to operate in other US -based Russian consular offices, a senior administration official told reporters in a conference call Thursday.More news: Gas Prices To Continue Rise As Key Southeastern Pipeline Runs Intermittently
More news: Acer expands Switch, Swift and Spin convertible model ranges
More news: Kevin Hart and Chris Young donate to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts
Along with the closure, State is also forcing Russian Federation to shut down a chancery annex in Washington, D.C. and a consular annex in NY.
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson conveyed to Russia's foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, in a phone call, bore all of the hallmarks of a Cold War-era grudge match, the New York Times reported.
American counterintelligence officials have long kept a watchful eye on Russia's outpost in San Francisco, concerned that people posted to the consulate as diplomats were engaged in espionage.
In other words, the political class that's been jockeying for a Cold War revival since long before Trump took the White House (a revival that was all but promised given a Hillary Clinton victory) is dying to hear talk of "firte and fury" from the president on Russian Federation.
President Trump had not promised to retaliate for the expulsion of US diplomatic staff from the country, but instead thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin after the order came down from Moscow.