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Moscow to react to US demands to shut Russian diplomatic facilities after sizing matter up

Russia's top diplomat stressed that it was President Obama and his Administration who initiated this sanctions exchange in the first place
Consulate-General of Russia in San Francisco AP Photo/Eric Risberg
Consulate-General of Russia in San Francisco
© AP Photo/Eric Risberg

MOSCOW, September 1. /TASS/. Moscow will respond to Washington’s move to close down Russia’s Consulate-General in San Francisco, as well as diplomatic annexes in Washington and New York, after assessing the situation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov vowed, while addressing students and lecturers at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations on Friday.

"We have been looking into it after receiving the note last night," he stated.

"We will respond as soon as the assessment is complete," he added. "I would like to point out it was not us who initiated this exchange of sanctions, but the Obama Administration. They sought to rupture Russian-US relations and prevent US President Donald Trump from putting forward any constructive proposals," the Russian top diplomat stressed. 

Washington’s policy rationale of "exceptionalism" has been observed in Russia’s US diplomatic property spat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out in a speech at MGIMO university on Friday.

"I do not even want to comment on that, because we see some frenzy about ‘exceptionalism’ which US President Barack Obama constantly referred to, arrogantly pointing to the place, which, in his view, all other countries should take," he said.

Lavrov's talk with Tillerson 

"What US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told me yesterday [in a telephone call - TASS] was explained in the note that we received," Lavrov says. "I have an ambivalent feeling that they somehow wanted to cite our statement that 455 diplomatic personnel mean parity. Based on the parity logic, the United States has cut the number of our consulates since we had them in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Houston," he added.

According to the Russian foreign minister, it is an old story, because in the Soviet times, the US also used to have four consulates - in Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, Vladivostok and Kiev:

"When the Soviet Union collapsed, we proposed that they open a fourth consulate general in Russia but they said ‘no, thank you, three is enough for us’. In this case, we can speak about parity, but it is a specific parity since they have counted the personnel of the Russian mission to the United Nations as diplomats," he added.

Lavrov noted that two days had been given to Russia to close its Consulate-General in San Francisco. "We gave the Americans time to cut the number of their diplomatic staff in order to match the number of Russian diplomats in the United States, while 35 Russian diplomats and their family members were expelled within two days.

"Though they said that the personnel of the Consulate General and other two facilities did not need to leave but could be transferred to other diplomatic annexes."