US/Russia Relations Worsen as Diplomatic Sites Are Shuttered

Washington closes three sites in response to Russia cutting American diplomatic staff last month
By Josh Rosenblatt,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2017 11:15 AM CDT
Vladimir Putin   (Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)
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(Newser) – The Russian government has called out the United States for committing what it calls a "blatantly hostile act" by closing three Russian diplomatic posts. On Saturday the U.S. took control of the facilities following an order from the Trump administration, Reuters reports. The order to close down the Russian consulate in San Francisco and two trade offices in Washington, D.C., and New York came in response to an order from Moscow last month dramatically reducing the number of American diplomatic personnel in Russia, an order that itself came in retaliation for new sanctions signed into law by Trump last month. On its Web site the Russian foreign ministry calls the closure of the posts a "grave violation by Washington of international law."

The two countries are also bickering over how the transfers of the buildings took place, with the Kremlin accusing American officials of threatening to "break down the entrance door" of one of the trade offices and forcefully conducting a search, the Washington Post reports. State Department officials are denying those reports, saying American officials were joined on their walkthroughs of the buildings by embassy personnel. But Moscow is calling the search an "unprecedented aggressive action," and Russia's foreign ministry says it has lodged a formal protest with the U.S. deputy chief of mission in Moscow. (Read more Russia stories.)

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