NEW YORK, March 26. /TASS/. Russia’s consulate general in Seattle said on Monday it has stopped receiving citizens.
"In the wake of the US’s decision to close the Russian consulate general in Seattle, reception of citizens on passport, visa, citizenship and notary issues will be stopped from March 26," the consulate said on its website.
Russian Consul General in Seattle Khalit Aisin told TASS earlier in the day that the consulate would stop operation by 17:00 local time on March 30, as demanded by the US authorities.
Earlier on Monday, Washington announced its decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats, including 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, demanding they leave the country within one week. Apart from that, it said Russia’s consulate general in Seattle would be closed. The move was prompted by the incident with poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, the United Kingdom.
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury. Police said they had been exposed to a nerve agent. Both are in the hospital in a critical condition.
The UK accused Russia of being involved, but failed to produce any evidence. UK Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of "unlawful use of force" against her country. She identified the substance used in the attack as a Novichok nerve agent, developed in the former Soviet Union. London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow.
Russia has rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia. In response to the UK’s steps, 23 British diplomats were expelled from Russia, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated. Furthermore, Moscow pointed out that further measures could be taken "should there be any more hostile actions against Russia."