WASHINGTON, August 31. /TASS/. The decision to close three Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States was not related to the arrival of the new Russian ambassador to the United States, a US Department of State official told TASS on Thursday.
"The timing of our actions today is not tied to the Ambassador’s arrival," the official said.
"We have said publicly for some time that we would respond to Russia’s July actions by September 1. The Russian government decided when Antonov should arrive in Washington D.C.," the US diplomat added.
Earlier on Thursday, the US issued a demand to the Russian government to close down the Consulate General in San Francisco and another two diplomatic facilities, one in Washington and one in New York, saying the move was aimed at restoring parity in diplomatic relations with Russia.
A senior US Administration official told a news briefing for reporters by telephone the decision implied the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and the trade missions in Washington and New York. She said along with it the US did not demand that the Russian staff employed at these legations be sent off home.
The US government’s written statement about the decision was made public about an hour before a plane carrying Russia’s new envoy to the US, Anatoly Antonov, landed in Washington. Shortly before the US Department of State’s statement was published, a senior White House official told TASS that the US administration was looking forward to welcoming Antonov in the US.
"We typically do not comment on the arrival of individual ambassadors, but we look forward to welcoming him to the White House at the next credentialing ceremony," the US official said.