Russia has until Saturday to close some U.S. offices

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks on August 1, 2017, at the briefing room of the US State Department in Washington, DC. 

Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images

Russia has until Saturday to close three diplomatic offices in Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced Thursday, noting the “downward spiral” in U.S.-Russia relations.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had promised the order of the closures in response to Russia’s decision to expel 755 diplomatic personnel from the Kremlin. Russia took that action after the US. passed tougher sanctions rules on Russia earlier this summer, legislation President Trump signed but called “seriously flawed.” The legislation swept through Congress with bipartisan support, receiving only two “no” votes in the Senate and three in the House.

“The United States has fully implemented the decision by the government of the Russian Federation to reduce the size of our mission in Russia,” Nauert said in a statement. “We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries.

“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, D.C., and a consular annex in New York City. These closures will need to be accomplished by September 2.”

That will leave each country with three consulates in place, Nauert said, explaining the U.S. will keep some of its annexes “in an effort to arrest the downward spiral in our relationship.”

“The United States hopes that, having moved toward the Russian Federation’s desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both of our presidents: improved relations between our two countries and increased cooperation on areas of mutual concern,” Nauert continued. “The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted.”

Earlier this year, Tillerson said U.S.-Russia relations “may be at an all-time low.”

CBS New’ Kylie Atwood contributed to this report. 

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Source: CBS News – Politics

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