On Thursday, the State Department ordered Russia to close three of its consular offices in the U.S. Russia has until Saturday to vacate a consulate in San Francisco, a consular annex in New York, and a chancery annex in Washington, D.C.
The order was given in response to Russia's "unwarranted and detrimental" mandate in late July for the U.S. to drastically cut staff at its mission in Moscow, a retaliatory response to new sanctions passed by Congress. Earlier this month President Trump expressed his gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin for expelling hundreds of American diplomats: "I want to thank him, because we're trying to cut down on payroll," Trump quipped.
The State Department's order, made in the "spirit of parity," will make it so both the U.S. and Russia "remain with three consulates each." "The United States hopes that, having moved toward the Russian Federation's desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both of our presidents: improved relations between our two countries and increased cooperation on areas of mutual concern," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement. "The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted."