Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Escalating Tit for Tat, US Orders Russian Consulate Closed

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Escalating Tit for Tat, US Orders Russian Consulate Closed

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Escalating a diplomatic tit-for-tat, the United States abruptly ordered Russia on Thursday to shutter its San Francisco consulate and close offices in Washington and New York, intensifying tension between the former Cold War foes. Washington gave Moscow 48 hours to comply.

President Donald Trump's administration described its action as retaliation for the Kremlin's "unwarranted and detrimental" demand last month that the U.S. cut its diplomatic staff in Russia. But Moscow declared it a major escalation.

"The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Still, she said the U.S. hoped both countries could now move toward "improved relations" and "increased cooperation."

It was a harsh welcome to Washington for new Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov, who arrived only hours after the U.S. announcement. At the airport, Antonov cited a maxim of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin as he urged caution and professionalism.

"We don't need hysterical impulses," Russian news agencies quoted Antonov as saying.

The closures on both U.S. coasts marked perhaps the most drastic diplomatic measure by the United States against Russia since 1986, near the end of the Cold War, when the nuclear-armed powers expelled dozens of each other's diplomats.

The two countries have clashed over the wars in Ukraine and Syria, but most significantly over American allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election to boost Trump's chances of victory. Investigations continue into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.

By Saturday, the Russians must close their consulate in San Francisco and an official residence there. Though Russia can keep its New York consulate and Washington embassy, trade missions housed in satellite offices in both of those cities must shut down, a senior Trump administration official said. …

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