In July Russia demanded more than 700 U.S. diplomats stationed in Russia be immediately expelled from the country after Congress passed new sanctions on a number of government officials close to President Vladimir Putin. A reminder:
President Vladimir V. Putin announced Sunday that the American diplomatic mission in Russia must reduce its staff by 755 employees, an aggressive response to new American sanctions that seemed ripped right from the Cold War playbook and sure to increase tensions between the two capitals.
In making the announcement, Mr. Putin said Russia had run out of patience waiting for relations with the United States to improve.
“We waited for quite a long time that, perhaps, something will change for the better, we held out hope that the situation would somehow change,” Mr. Putin said in an interview on state-run Rossiya 1 television, which published a Russian-language transcript on its website. “But, judging by everything, if it changes, it will not be soon.”
Today it was announced the U.S. is responding the expulsion by forcing a number of Russia diplomats stationed in San Francisco, New York City and Washington to leave the country.
"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,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Naurt said Thursday. "I want to point out that even after these closures, Russia will still maintain more diplomatic and consular annexes in the United States than we have in Russia. We’ve chosen to allow the Russian Government to maintain some of its annexes in an effort to arrest the downward spiral in our relationship."
"I want to also highlight that it’s our hope that with this move in the direction of parity, which the Russians said they were seeking, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides. Our goal is really to find a way to get to better relations between our two countries," she continued.
Hearing movement right now in back of the Russian trade building in DC ordered shut (My boyfriend lives next door.) pic.twitter.com/pMG909Oqz1— Jana Winter (@janawinter) August 31, 2017
This is another stage in the ongoing back and forth retaliation between the U.S. and Russia. President Trump seemed unconcerned about the expulsion of diplomats from Russia last month and even thanked Putin for the move because "we’re trying to cut down our payroll."
Russia has already responded to the situation and Kremlin officials say they will analyze the situation further before issue a more formal reaction.
This post has been updated with additional information.