Moscow voices protest over restrictions of Russian diplomatic activities

Posted September 04, 2017

"Our hope with this move in direction of parity, is that we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides. the goal to find a way to get to better relations", said the U.S. official.

"The Russian government has a long history of harassing American diplomats, and for the last eight years, President Putin has been emboldened by, among other things, the lack of consequences for these actions", Corker said.

Lavrov defended Russia's decision to cut USA diplomatic staff as reciprocal reaction to the US expelling Russian diplomats last December.

Rex Tillerson, the USA secretary of state, said at the time that Washington would respond by September.

After Trump signed the sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a cut of about 60 per cent of us diplomatic staff in Russia by September 1.

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The U.S. has said as a result, it will stop issuing visas at its consulates in Russian Federation in cities other than Moscow.

US President Donald Trump warned that Washington's ties with Moscow are at a "very unsafe low", and blamed Congress for the situation, after he reluctantly signed into law a sanctions bill against Russian Federation.

That action was taken following harassment of US diplomats in Russia, as well as Russian interference in the USA presidential election.

"We call on the American authorities to come to their senses and immediately return the Russian diplomatic properties or all blame for the continuing degradation in our relations lies on the U.S".

The move was a response to Russia's decision to expel hundreds of US diplomats from the USA embassy in Moscow.

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Meanwhile, Russia's foreign minister released a statement in which he "expressed his regret over the escalation of tensions in bilateral relations, which were not started by us".

"And he also informed him of our plans to close the facilities in question".

"We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries", said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement released Thursday. "The steps taken today by President Trump and his administration are wholly appropriate".

Russia's consulates in New York, Seattle and Houston will remain open.

"The Department of State can confirm that the Russian government complied with the order to vacate its Consulate and two annexes", a senior State Department official said.

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