The government of the United States has given Russia 72 hours to close three of its diplomatic facilities in America in retaliation for kicking out more than 700 US diplomats last month.
“In the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians, we are requiring the Russian Government to close its Consulate General in San Francisco, a chancery annex in Washington, DC, and a consular annex in New York City,” a statement by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert reads. “These closures will need to be accomplished by September 2.”
It comes three days after Trump refused to single out Russia as security threat to the United States, despite Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The State Department action continues an ongoing diplomatic rift between the US and Russia that has steadily widened despite Trump’s stated desire to develop better ties with Moscow.
But instead of lashing out at Russia’s aggressive diplomatic move, Trump actually praised Putin for kicking out US diplomats, claiming Putin was actually doing the US a favor. “I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on payroll, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people, because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump told reporters. “We’ll save a lot of money.”
The Kremlin is understandably unhappy with this move. “We regret escalation of tension not initiated by Russia,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after the announcement.