Trump Personally Decided to Close Russian Embassy in San Francisco

US will force Russia to shut down three consulates as part of 'downward spiral' in relations

The deadline for the consulate to close is Saturday.

He has made a choice and does not plan to discuss this over the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a senior United States administration official told RIA Novosti.

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during the G20 summit in Hamburg Germany, in July 2017. Washington had to reduce its diplomatic staff by 755 people.

There was no immediate reaction from the Russian government.

"We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries", she said, noting that with action against Russian diplomatic facilities "both countries will remain with three consulates each".

It has also ordered the closure of buildings that houses Russia's trade missions.

U.S. is requiring the closure of Consulate General in San Francisco, a chancery annex in Washington D.C., and a consular annex in New York City, which will be accomplished by September 2. The official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity in keeping with administration practice. Just days before New Year, on December 29th, Barrack Obama announced expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats giving them 72 hours to leave the country affecting 96 Russian nationals including families of the diplomats.

The latest United States move came as a Sep 1 deadline was reached for Washington to comply with a Kremlin demand to slash staff numbers at its Russian diplomatic mission by 755 personnel.

Despite the tensions, the two agreed to meet again in September at the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in NY.

At the time, the US also said it would start doing visa interviews only at the Embassy in Moscow and no longer at the consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

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Nauert also noted the United States was allowing Russian Federation to maintain additional annexes "in an effort to arrest the downward spiral in our relationship".

That may not be likely any time soon.

Trump controversially thanked Putin for doing this, but later claimed he was being sarcastic. In the last weeks of his presidency, Obama expelled 35 Russians whom he accused of spying, and seized two Russian vacation compounds in Maryland and NY.

The diplomatic row also came at a low point of bilateral relationship between Washington and Moscow, as the two sides hold differences on a range of issues, including the war in Syria, and the conflict in Ukraine. Investigations continue into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.

The sanctions were imposed for Russia's interference in the US Presidential elections and its annexation of Crimea in 2014. He opposed the law but was forced to sign because it had been approved with a veto-proof majority.

In the waning days of his tenure, Obama hit out at Russian Federation over the allegations by turfing out 35 diplomats and closing two of Moscow's diplomatic compounds.

Russia's new ambassador to D.C., former Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, told reporters "we need to sort this out calmly, very calmly and act in a professional manner".

Her angry statement came after presidential aide Yury Ushakov was quoted by TASS news agency as describing the latest U.S. measures as "a kind of illegal takeover".

The San Francisco Fire Department says acrid, black smoke seen pouring from a chimney at the Russian consulate in San Francisco was apparently from a fire burning in a fireplace.

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